Rast RFC is a rapper from NYC with ice water in his veins. He’s a purveyor of truth; a performer that blends the lines between art and life. Ironically, what Rast fills his notebook pages with is entirely real and utterly fascinating.
I reached out to him after hearing his incredible project Across West 3rd Street in an attempt to understand exactly what it’s like to talk it as you live it. His responses were calculated and complex, making it possible to revisit his work with a profound sense of not only the musician, but the man repping the RFC Crew.
Shiny Glass Houses: Listening to your music is like opening the window in the living room of a 4th floor walk-up in NYC and being flooded with the sounds of real life. For those who don’t know, who is Rast RFC?
Rast: Well, I would first like to say that I am a proud father to my rad son, Lexington and a husband to my angelic wife, Celeste; but I am also a storyteller of sorts, and my experiences and the worlds’ experiences are the ink for my pen. My home is Bronx/Manhattan and RFC is a street gang that started out as a graffiti crew. Myself and CA RFC founded the crew in like 1992 and it just blew up throughout the 90s. We were known for our ruthlessness, large numbers, and fashion trends.
SGH: How long have you been doing music? It’s obvious that you’re a fan of the culture, but you have a really raw quality that I honestly haven’t heard in a long, long time.
Rast: Thank you, I have been rapping seriously for about two years. I attempted to call myself a rapper some years back, but was too deep in the pits of drug addiction and street life to ever accomplish anything. I actually stopped rapping for a while, went to rehab, started playing guitar and creating dope pop songs and later on I reincorporated rap into my music and I realized that I might have something.
SGH: Why is it so important for an artist such as yourself to blend life and art? It sounds so seamless and almost effortless, the way you crush raps while simultaneously staying dialed into your emotions.
Rast: I am an extremely emotional person, so I have to emote through my music. When I rap, I am not always trying to write the most clever lines, although I do enjoy it. I’m mostly conveying emotion and images through my words and I guess that’s just my specific style of art.
SGH: New York is the center of the world. How essential is the city to your music?
Rast: I am who I am because Nas, Jay-Z, and Biggie were born in New York, so its very essential. Also the smell of the garbage truck juice on a sticky summer night, and the street light’s glimpse of a crack fiends cloud of misery also plays a large part of my inspiration.
SGH: You make it clear on your tape that you aren’t glorifying negativity, but simply discussing your experiences as bricks in your foundation. Do you think rappers today worry about how they’re perceived, or is it all style over substance?
Rast: It seems like a lot of rappers today don’t think consequentially about how they effect the world and the youth, but hey, I am guilty of it also.
SGH: On your project, Across West 3rd Street, you speak on your parents being activists and intellectuals, which allowed you idle time as a kid. You turned to the streets, and now you have the chance to tell those stories. Would you change that part of your past if you could?
Rast: Well, I always regret that I wasn’t allowed to go to school like regular kids and I do feel like that was stripped away from me, but I wouldn’t change a thing because every life event I experienced from the day I was born led me to meet my wife.
SGH: Before I heard the tape I cruised around on your Soundcloud page, and I immediately thought of Mobb Deep and a young, violent 50. When you were stepping into the street with your headphones on as a kid, what was pumping?
Rast: It all started with Kool G-Rap, Redman, and Das Efx. Then Nas, AZ, Mobb Deep, Capone and Noreaga, Tragedy, Nature…the whole QB thing really affected my life. Mobb Deep really had me and my friends like, they really inspired us to commit crime and like, hurt people. It’s sad, but true.
SGH: I think you might be a Beatles/Lennon fan. How did that come about?
Rast: My parents always listened to The Beatles and Jimmy Hendrix around the house so I was influenced early by their music. The Beatles and Lennon and stuff like the Beach Boys really influences the singing I incorporate into my songs, ya know?
SGH: What’s next? A record? Some shows?
Rast: Videos and an EP with one of my favorite new artists, shows and a new album that wasn’t recorded in my living room.
SGH: Anything you’d like to add?
Rast: I would like to thank you. And, also thank you to Amaury, Eskay and Sacha Jenkins…
SGH: Last but not least and entirely customary around the Glass House…what’s your drink of choice?
Rast: I don’t drink because if I do, I fall asleep and wake up in handcuffs.
I never heard realer words. Major thanks to Rast, and be sure to check out his soundcloud page at https://soundcloud.com/rastrfc. Follow him on Twitter @RAST_RFC. Download this tape immediately and rock it in crowded places, near a bunch of nervous white people.