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Brags to Riches

[whitespace] Rasco Time Waits for No MC: Rapper Rasco is willing to take on all comers.

Time won't wait for San Mateo rap artist Rasco

By Oliver Wang

THE ART of MCing has become a complicated thing. Rappers come in all types of flavors today. There are reality rappers (Too Short), superscientifical lyricists (Hieroglyphics) and the ever-popular "hip-pop" crowd (Puff Daddy). San Mateo's Rasco is an MC cut from the original cloth--an old-fashioned braggadocio rapper. Braggin' and boastin' are his bread and butter.

Just don't accuse Rasco of being full of himself. He's all about expression, not ego--it's not his fault if some MCs just can't handle him. Growing up between Cleveland and the Bay Area, Rasco is a child of the hip-hop generation, having been not only an MC but also a DJ and b-boy (dancer).

In fact, it was his role as a dancer that got him involved with the rap crew Various Blends in the late 1980s. That stint lead to his emergence as an MC, and although rapping is still his main love, Rasco remains committed to exploring hip-hop's other corners.

"I've got more of an appreciation for other DJs and people that do graffiti," Rasco says, noting that he pays special attention to "how they take their art very, very seriously. By doing that, I can see where they're coming from."

Rasco initially appeared on a Various Blends EP in 1995, but his first major break came a year later when he teamed up with the South Bay's beat alchemist Peanut Butter Wolf and his independent record label, Stones Throw. The result was "The Un-A.S.S.I.S.T.E.D.," Rasco's declaration of solo independence and one of the year's most memorable hip-hop hits.

The single gave Rasco the 15-minute spotlight in the underground, and he and Peanut Butter wasted no time working out an album deal. Rasco's debut album, Time Waits for No Man, is just out and is Stones Throw's first full-length album by an MC.

RASCO ADMITS THAT THE popularity of "The Un-A.S.S.I.S.T.E.D." created challenges for him. Rap history is filled with one-hit wonders who were never able to follow up their initial successes, and Rasco has no desire to join his less fortunate brethren.

" 'Un-A.S.S.I.S.T.E.D.' was the easiest record I wrote on the album because it was actual feelings that I had," Rasco explains. "However, I've never really tried to follow it up because I know I can't." For that reason, Rasco is relieved "the album is coming out now because it gives people a chance to hear more material from me."

Fans will be rewarded for their patience. Time Waits for No Man is easily one of the most consistent hip-hop albums they'll hear all year. His guests and producers read like a who's who of top West Coast hip-hop acts: rappers Defari, Dilated Peoples and Planet Asia join him on mic while producers Evidence, Paul Nice, Kutmasta Kurt and Peanut Butter handle the music.

Without necessarily intending to be, Time Waits for No Man is a strong statement that the Bay Area hip-hop scene has never been more vibrant. Although the New York City scene continues to hold traditional sway, Rasco counters, "To me, the West Coast has the ones that are really keeping the hip-hop thing going. It's just a shame that the most talented don't get the recognition."

As if to provide an example, Rasco shares his feeling that, despite strong street response, he's been stung by criticism that claims he's too one-dimensional. It seems that his braggadocio style makes him an easy target for some pundits who think hip-hop is either about dictionary vocabulary or thug-life fantasies.

Rasco makes a simple observation. "Who's not bragging, though? What MC is not bragging? It's weird because, with me, everybody's noticing that I'm bragging, so obviously they're listening to me," he suggests, pulling a silver thread from the dark cloud of criticism.

Rasco admits that braggadocio is his signature style, but he stops short of calling himself a "battle MC." He's not about trying to start a beef with every other rapper on the planet. Instead, Rasco brings it all back to the art of expression--not aggression--explaining, "My style is not a battle style--it's a messenger style. Little things are happening around you. I want to bring them to light."

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From the October 1-7, 1998 issue of Metro.

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