When you ask other legends about the icon Grandmaster Caz, some are speechless, others just shake their head. Cazs impact on the art of rap is undeniable. He has influenced the likes of DMC, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and his DNA is deeply embedded in Hip-Hop .
Caz was ushered into rap by attending a Kool Herc party and was hooked by how Herc could control a crowd. He kicked in the door by penning the rhymes for Big Bank Hank of Sugar Hill for one of the biggest and most recognizable rap songs of all time, Rappers Delight. He is the lead emcee of the legendary Cold Crush Brothers and is still very active in the game now. Grandmaster Caz is the emcees emcee. His resume is long and his talent is great. Other rappers mention him or the Cold Crush in songs, like Jay-Z did in Izzo.
Do yourself a favor and see how he controls a crowd to this day. YouTube does not do him justice, you need to make a point to see him live. Check out his stage performance, listen to his lyrics and you will see why he really is a grandmaster of this art.
RareHipHop.com: We are here with the legendary, iconic Grandmaster Caz, also part-owner of RareHipHop.com. He is here to bless us with some information of what he is up to, the past and the present and give us the inside scoop on what is really happening in Hip-Hop. So Caz, what currently are you doing ?
Grandmaster Caz: The saga continues baby, I don't have a recording schedule or nothing like that, this is straight Hip-Hop so I take it as it comes, day by day. I do events in the summer, I do Hip-Hop tours year round. The Cold Crush are doing shows, Im doing shows, Im doing different film projects, so I always keep something going on baby.
RareHipHop.com: Early on in your Hip-Hop career you went by the name Casanova Fly, correct?
Grandmaster Caz: Correct!
RareHipHop.com: So what made you change the name to Grandmaster Caz?
Grandmaster Caz: Well, Casanova Fly was my b-boy name when I first started in Hip-Hop, I was dancing with a crew called the Casanova Crew. Turns out later on, Grandmaster Flashs security team was called the Casanovas and I didn want to get caught up, cause they was like thugs and people were starting to associate me with them because I was Casanova Fly. They were the Casanovas and everyone thought I was the leader (laughs). So I was like, let me just nip this in the bud, so I just shortened the Casanova to Caz.
RareHipHop.com: So being an icon in Hip-Hop, a lot of rappers, old and new pay homage to you. How does that make you feel? What is your relationship with Big Daddy Kane? Corey Gunz gave you a shout-out, he thanks you as being a positive influence whats your relationship with him?
Grandmaster Caz: Kane is like my little brother or my son in Hip-Hop and Corey is like my nephew.
RareHipHop.com: How do you like their styles?
Grandmaster Caz: I love their styles, you can tell the kats who stay in touch with the legends and the kats who are IN TOUCH with the legends. You can pretty much translate everybodys style back to me at some point. If you listen to so and so or he is probably listening to so and so, who in turn listens to so and so, who in turn listens to me! So its like it gets passed down, sometimes not directly, but indirectly. Im pretty sure Jay Z wasn at none of my jams back in the days, but Jay-Z was definitely influenced by me. If you were influenced by Kane, then you were influenced by me.
RareHipHop.com: He did pay homage to the Cold Crush back in the days, so he did pay homage indirectly.
Grandmaster Caz: Yea, no doubt indirectly. You can tell kats got you on their mind, they thinking about you, you taking up some kind of space in their consciousness and I guess thats a good thing.
RareHipHop.com: Tell us a little about the Sundance project how did that come about and what is your part in it?
Grandmaster Caz: Last year Ice came by my crib, and he was like listen, I am working on this film and its called the art of rap. Its going to be a film and not a regular documentary and I definitely want you to be a part of it. I said say no more and he came over the crib with the crew and we filmed my part. They did a lot more filming of me than they did a lot of other people, I guess cause I am so charismatic (laughs). But I came off very well in the film so the film was accepted at Sundance, the film festival in Utah and we got a great, great reaction to the film. A lot of people wanted to be involved with it, so right now I am just waiting for them to make deals and I guess we will be doing a tour soon to promote the film. The film is definitely interesting, its about the art of emceeng, the art of rap. A lot of times you see documentaries about Hip-Hop, especially with rappers or emcees and you don get any information from it, you get beef or conjecture, but with this film you definitely get information from it and it gives you a better insite on being an emcee and what guys put into it so it is defientely is a good look.
RareHipHop.com: Being that you e a legend in hip-hop, how does that aid you in getting the word out about RareHipHop.com and the History of Hip-Hop?
Grandmaster Caz: I mean its just another vehicle for me, everything I do is geared towards the celebration and preservation of true Hip-Hop and RareHipHop.com is just another vehicle out there for people to get a hold of real Hip-Hop. Not to say the other Hip-Hop is not real, but when we say real we talking about the origins and the rareness of it, the stuff that you just can find anywhere and that is why I thought it was a worthwhile venture to get into and thats why I did it. Mostly everything I do is about Hip-Hop.
RareHipHop.com: Caz, the 1st and 2nd RareHipHop.com mixtapes got rave reviews from around the world. They were all about mixing the old with the new, tell us a bit about how the project went with you mixing both.
Grandmaster Caz: It was only natural for me to do a mixtape to bring attention to the project, RareHipHop.com and what we are trying to do. And no way in the world you going to do a mixtape and Im part owner of this company and I don do it (laughs)! A lot of people forget that I am a DJ, because most of my notoriety comes from the microphone and from emceeing, but the turntables, DJing is my 1st love. I think great an emcee as I am, I was a dj first, so doing a mixtape was a no brainer. How they been received? I hope people dig em, I didn do nothing really extra, I didn go to the studio and do this and that, I just did like I used to make tapes back in the day (laughs). You know what I mean, Im glad it got a good reaction, the legends joint and the new artists who will eventually become legends hopefully someday. RareHipHop.com isn just about legends, its about Rare Hip-Hop! Its about stuff that you cant just get off the shelf or go to itunes or go thru normal ways that people get music. Its another way for them to get music and its a way to get a specific kind of music that they want, the kind thats rare not that radio sh**, cause the best music never gets played on the radio.
RareHipHop.com: Tell us a little about the upcoming project with Fokis.
Grandmaster Caz: Yea, thats another seed. I call them seeds when I do projects, its about planting as many seeds as possible and hopefully they grow into something. The project with Fokis was another kat coming to me and he seemed like he was sincere, on some real Hip-Hop and he wanted me to be a part of the project so I was like aiight cool. So I got down with that, hopefully we can look for that to launch this summer and that will be another thing that comes out, my thing is you just keep doing stuff until something sticks to the wall. I could sit around my house and wait for the phone to ring like a lot of dudes do (laughs) but then what are you going to do in the meantime? I gots to keep it moving, so I do a little bit of anything and everything as long as its Hip-Hop.
RareHipHop.com: Speaking of Hip-Hop, current day Hip-Hop, who do you like and what is the key to staying relevant in Hip-Hop?
Grandmaster Caz: There is no key, if you are a part of the machine, then you are a part of the machine and once the machine starts cranking in your favor you going to be out there. Once the machine stops and you not oiling the machine no more and the machine needs something else to make it run then you go and something else comes in its place. But in Hip-Hop it is different, in Hip-Hop you are always relevant. In Hip-Hop you are always a contributor to the culture. In Hip-Hop its not about you having a hot record or being the hottest thing out right now, its a collective conscious and an appreciation over what youve done and what you continue to do over the years, thats the Hip-Hop that I live.
RareHipHop.com: Who do you like out now?
Grandmaster Caz: There are not a lot of kats I can say, because I don know a lot of kats that really rock like that. Im not really up on a lot of current stuff. Being a DJ, makes me have to be familiar with the music, but it ain like any of that sh** is in my ipod (laughs). It ain about old/new, its about good and bad. It ain like Im so old I can appreciate a good record if I heard it today, it just that I haven heard none. Every now and then you will hear a promising emcee which is what I look for. I don look for a hot track, or a hot record or nothing like that, Im here to see what the next dude got fly to say. The conversation is pretty much the same lately and there is nobody thats that much better than the next person. Its like a big bowl of soup out there right now, the soup might be good but aint nothing special about it.
RareHipHop.com: If you had your choice, to choose 3 rappers from any era, who do you wish could come out and give you something?
Grandmaster Caz: I wish Rakim would come out and give me something. I mean everyone else we continue to hear from. I mean my son, Busta Rhymes is continuing to flip the script! He out here and staying current on these kats and doing it in a way that damn, you cannot just f**k with that dude yo (laughs)! Thats what I respect, thats what I respect! I mean Jay, he is in another stratosphere, Jay can s**t on a record and sell it right now. Kanye is a pop star. Em, hes solidified. His shit is solidified, locked in, you know who he is, you checking for the next dude now. Theres one kat I think hes from the Bronx, this French Montana kid, thats the kid Im checking for, thats like the new dude im checking for. I keep hearing a lot about him from good sources and I champion the cause of a great emcee. If you really got a passion for this culture and you respect it and give to it like you get from it, then I ride with you.
RareHipHop.com:What about your travels, where did you go that opened up your mind the most in Hip-Hop?
Grandmaster Caz: My eyes been opened the most to Hip-Hop right here at home!
Grandmaster Caz: Once I started traveleing, we started taking Hip-Hop places. So there is not any place that I went to and my eyes were like wow Hip-Hop…, nah, Hip-Hop, the mantifestaion of Hip-Hop is right here at home. But when I we did travel, we did take Hip-Hop places. Like when we first went to Japan after WildStyle came out in 82, they never heard of Hip-Hop before! They had no idea of what we are doing! They first saw the movie and the movie bugged them out (laughs)! We would go to clubs and start scratching on the turntables and DJs were bugging out, like what are yall doing? How do you do that? I remember Rock Steady getting on the dance floor at a club in Tokyo and doing head spins and the whole crowd just starting applauding and standing up like they never seen it before! So to say that we were some of the1st people to expose this country to Hip-Hop and they now love Hip-Hop almost more than anyone on the planet...they have a better appreciation for, not just rap music but for the culture as a whole The graffiti, the breaking, the DJ and the emcee aspect. Thats the best thing about traveling, exposing Hip-Hop to other people, exposing the true brand of Hip-Hop to those who may not have been fortunate enough to be back in the days to really see it for themselves.
RareHipHop.com: So when you perform where do you get the most love from besides from home?
Grandmaster Caz: To be honest, I haven been away away in quite awhile, I haven been overseas in over 10 years, so there isn a gauge that I can go to, but my thing wherever Im at thats where the Hip-Hop is at and I get love from what ever Im around and wherever Im around it doesn matter. It doesn matter who, what state, city, country, female, male, old, young, I always get the same feedback, love and reaction. Usually its awe and excitement. Cause thats how I put it down. Places Id like to go that I think Id be well received? I never been to France, I never to Australia. Im told Im this legendary icon figure over there in Hip-Hop and there are a lot of other countries I haven been able to get to yet, but to me its not where I get the love from, its who I give the love to, thats what Im about. I know the people are going to dig what I do, because I dig what I do and Im real with it and passionate about it. When I do it, I do it as much for them as I do for myself.
RareHipHop.com: Have you ever been surprised by something that knew who you were?
Grandmaster Caz: Sure! All the time! Im not one to walk around with a billboard on my hat, oh Im Grandmaster Caz, everybody knows me, thats not my style and I never take for granted that everybody knows who I am or cares (laughs) for that matter. Ive literally had people stop and bow down in front of me in the street and it happens regularly. But I don take that for granted, Im always humbled by it, Im always flattered by it and I keep it moving. I don assume the next person I see on the next block will do the same thing. I know theres are a certain amount of people that has a true, love, passion and appreciation for Hip-Hop and if they know Hip-Hop then they know me and they show me love.
RareHipHop.com: Where do you see Hip-Hop moving next or where would you like it to go next?
Grandmaster Caz: I mean where can it not go? Its not where can it go, its where can it go! The next place Id like to see it take a presence in is in the political forum. Id like to see somebody with a Hip-Hop mentality enter politics. In order for Hip-Hop to really be used as a tool for change, it has to be powerful. It has to be in influencial hands and thats not record companies. It has to be an artist who can transcend that medium, selling records and just being a bigger force. Id like to see that, that is the only place we haven seen Hip-Hop on that level .
RareHipHop.com: We can see that happening, that is the next phase, because a lot of icons and people who grew up on Hip-Hop are at a stage where we need to be more involved with politics with our futures.
Grandmaster Caz: Exactly, exactly! More children of Hip-Hop are being educated, going to college and they are our next leaders…hopefully! Cause if you got a kat who is in the DAs office and you have all these rap artists getting locked up, he is going to have a sympathetic ear for these guys and their stories because he has a Hip-Hop mentality. The more we get our people into different fields of influence and power, then Hip-Hop will be more powerful and not just on a musical level, but on a cultural and a world level.
RareHipHop.com: Speaking of cultural and world level, you went to Cornell University and did a lecture there correct?
Grandmaster Caz: Oh yeah.
RareHipHop.com: How do you feel about Hip-Hop in the universities?
Grandmaster Caz: I think Hip-Hop should teach Hip-Hop, not people that read books about it (laughs). First and foremost history teachers weren in the civil war, but they can learn it and teach it. Hip-Hop is so young, the people who originated it, the pioneers of Hip-Hop, the people that can tell you first hand are still here, so why would someone else tell that story or be more capable to tell that story than the actual people who made that history? So I think that anybody who should be a professor of Hip-Hop, should be someone from Hip-Hop. Of course we ain going to be around forever. We are the first wave, we are the pioneers. After awhile, RunDMC and them are going to be the pioneers, then the 80s guys are the pioneers as the generations move on. After awhile people are going to be looking back at Wacka Flacka as the pioneer (laughs). Thats just the way of the world. But somebody needs to be in place to level the playing field as far as the validity of the information. Cause the more the story is told and the more people the story is told to, the story gets changed watered down. But if you have that definitive story from the beginning, then you can change that cause you heard straight from the person. So we have to document our own history! Thats why RareHipHop.com is going to be important! Cause its going to give you the Hip-Hop, not the Hip-Hop the company is trying to sell to you, but the Hip-Hop that is historically important.
RareHipHop.com: Thats what we do! You got any shout outs Caz!
Grandmaster Caz: Of course! I got to give a shout out to my Cold Crush Brothers, JDL, Easy AD, Almighty KG, the original DJ Tony Tone, shout out to Charlie Chase and DJ Outlaw. Big up to my man Puerto Rico, my Henny boys and my whole brood of children (laughs) and grandkids that are going to continue my legacy for generations to come.