We had the good fortune of connecting with John Austin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, what are you inspired by?
Experience is the best teacher. Living life is the greatest muse. Traveling, people-watching and engaging different people inspire me to write about the similarities and contrasts in different sub-cultures and nationalities. those things inspire me. The highs and lows of falling i love and that consequential heartbreak have inspired many a classic poem, painting and song. (Vincent Van Gogh went waaaay too far and even cut off his ear for it lol.) But i say that to say the entire spectrum of the human condition (joy, fear, melancholy, anger, sadness) all lend to creative expression
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
“The personification of a sick emcee” – Sway (in the Morning)
“One of the best rappers of all time.” – Pitchfork
“Top 50 MCs of Our Time” – About.com
Over 25 years in the music industry, initially as a Critically Acclaimed lyrical artist/producer (Priority/Capitol/EMI), I, pka Ras kass recorded with musicians ranging from Kanye West to Jay Z. I worked in a wide variety of roles Including artist, tour manager, art department, A & R, and producer, and was an original founding member of Patchwerk Records in Atlanta, GA. in the Rap music industry i am considered one of the most prolific writers in modern music. Known for rapping about Socio-Poltical and Historical fact-based events dealing with systematic racism. The depth and breadth of his career has been rough due to a refusal to ‘sell-out’ and make contrived nonsensical party or gangsta rap. Many consider me the blueprint for Eminem, and “Kendrick before Kendrick (Lamar)”
since a teenager i wrote records for Multi-Platinum artists such as DJ Battlecat, Coolio and Dr Dre. More recently for Snoop Dogg, Nipsey Hussle, David Banner and mothers. I strive to improve because i really respect the artform of song writing and the Culture of Hip Hop Music. Thats part of the reason i’ve had a longevity in this difficult business to navigate
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
TBH i hate tourism in LA lol. Its creates lots of traffic from people rubber-necking so i’d be a horrible tourguide. I feel like people visit Hollywood but are too afraid to see the ‘REAL’ LA , the actual heart and soul of Los Angeles where the natives live – The Hood. So id advise my friend to find a small local mexican food truck anywhere in the inner city and order some real tacos with an Horchata. Then go to a swapmeet and drive down Crenshaw blvd; eat an Earls Hot Dog. That evening, head over to Korea-town for dinner drinks at Escala. its a Korean-Columbian fusion restaurant located in the heart of K-town. Lastly i’d suggest my friend skip Venice Beach tourist-trap and head directly over to Catalina Album to go fishing, jetskiing and ziplining. Then back to Crenshaw blvd to visit Nipsey Hussle”s Marathon store and look for all the beautiful #rip Kobe & Gigi murals painted through-out the city.
The Hollywood Stars and the Capitol Building are cool but its seems strange to mire in the guilded decadence of that but never acknowledge the poverty nearby in Skidrow. i love the true essence of “The City of the Angels”
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many people i’d like to name but to keep it simple i’ll thank my mother and the book she bought me as a young deliquent, ‘Soul On Ice’ by Eldridge Cleaver