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exclusive interview with the renegadez 

paper 08/31/05 | Exclusive Interview With The Renegadez

the renegadez       Orange County might not be the first place you'd look for up & coming rappers. The Renegadez are on a mission to change that! The group, consisting of Young Cashis and Rikanatti, are originally from Chicago but moved to the West Coast to focus on their music careers. They have just released their new mixtape called "Stars with Stripes" not too long ago.

The Renegadez hit up Westcoast2k to discuss their group history, their new mixtape, as well as future plans. Check out this exclusive interview....

[ Listen to The Renegadez drop for Westcoast2k ]

Westcoast2k: Can you give a little introduction on who The Renegadez are and where you from?

Cashis: The Renegadez is Young Cashis and Rikanatti. We from Chicago, but we represent Orange County. Rikanatti does all the beats and he flows, and I just come with the gutter type rap shit.

Rikanatti: Basically what The Renegadez is all about, we try to change the face of Rap music. We feeling that we gonna be the ones that help bring the West Coast back. One person can't do it by themself, so it's gotta be a whole bunch of people. The game is lackin' that real ryder music, everybody wanna be so soft. I'm not disrespecting that, but Rap music started off in the streets and that's where it really needs to be. When I go sit down and make a beat, I'm coming with that gutter shit. And I know that's the shit that Young Cash can just lose his mind to. And what he spit, you can feel it. So this Renegadez thing is a movement.

Westcoast2k: Is that how you started off, as Cashis and Rikanatti?

Cashis: Actually when it started off, it was 4 people. Our homeboy is in Atlanta doing his thang. He took a different approach, but we still cool with him. And the other one was my girl Monique. She got shot up in June 1999. There's a lot of references to her through our music. Now we just keeping her name alive. She was the real street of the clique, she was making sure we bring the street music back to Rap. But we're on the grind. Rikanatti is servicing everybody and anybody that's coming out of Orange County with tracks right now.

Rikanatti: And we're doing collaborations right now. We didn't really do a whole bunch in the past. We got a song called "Guns Clappin" that features Roscoe, Kurupt, Jayo Felony, and Tris Star. We got other songs with Sly Boogy, one with JMG and Kokane. But now we're branching off to the New West Coast. For this mixtape we had Bishop Lamont do some drops for us, Spit Fiya did something for us, we did some songs with Problem from Compton. I just hooked up with Techniec and Dynamic Certified. I just did like 6 beats for them. So we're really focused on getting our name out there, and we're working with other artists. Because like I said it takes more than just 1 artist to bring it back, it's gotta be a whole Coast.

Westcoast2k: What's the Hip Hop scene like in Orange County?

Rikanatti: Man, right now it's a beautiful thing. It's a lot of underground Hip Hop, but it's a lot of street rappers also. Cause Orange County is big, it's a large place and people are really responsive to the music out here, they waiting for somebody. We're trying to be for the O.C. what Snoop is to Long Beach.

Cashis: And not even just black artists, you got Mr. Vick, you got a whole lot of people that's holdin' down Orange County. We're just trying to do our part.

Westcoast2k: Do you get a better response in Chicago or out in Cali?

Cashis: Out in Cali is where they hear most of our music. We had our first joint "Watch Closely" out in Chicago. But we got little spots poppin' up in New York, Jersey, and Philly. So we're trying to work the whole Mid-West and Southern region also.

Westcoast2k: So would you say that you're one of the leading artists in the O.C. right now?

Cashis: I say we are the leading artists in the O.C. right now. Period point blank. That's not in a bad way, but we're the ones that's making moves for everybody else. And we bring in every artist that we run into that's Orange County, that got any type of sound to them. We're doing tracks and we're trying to get them out. We're probably the ones from Orange County with the most connects, and we're in the best position to blow, out of everybody.

Westcoast2k: How did you guys hook up?

Rikanatti: Basically we met back in High School when we ended up having a class together. And we had things in common, but when we first clicked up we weren't really even on no Rap shit, we was on some other shit. But I was kinda getting into it, but Cashis wasn't into it at all. But we used to always kick it and freestyle on the block. And then I got him to come down to a studio session, and from then on we realized that we had talent. We started working at it, and then it just blossomed in to The Renegadez.

Westcoast2k: You released a independent project called "Watch Closely" a few years ago. What was the deal with that?

Rikanatti: Man with "Watch Closely" it ties into a long story. How we even got the name "Watch Closely" is cause the O.C. is not really known for rappers. So we was telling the world to watch closely what we're about to do. While we was recording the album, Cashis got locked up. He caught a case, and what happened was we bailed him out. And once we bailed him out of jail, we started recording like crazy. We recorded the album in like 6, 7 days. So we started recording because he probably was gonna have to serve some time. So while he was out on bail, we recorded the whole "Watch Closely" album. And then he ended up doing some time, and I was just getting everything mixed and mastered and getting ready to push the product. The streets was real responsive to it. They even got copies out in Africa. So the album is like a O.C. classic. And that project was actually what got Def Jam to take interest into us.

Westcoast2k: And then you got the brand new mixtape. Speak on that real quick.

Cashis: Man, "Stars with Stripes". That's the bidness. This is us maturing, niggas ain't going to jail anymore. It's still a whole lot of bullshit going on, but niggas is focused and really concerned about making this music shit a career. With "Stars with Stripes" it was easy as hell. We just went in there, Natti had an incredible line-up of beats. We was just knockin' shit out. We had probably like a 100 songs, and we narrowed it down to 20. We started to put it out and people was feeling it. But the title "Stars with Stripes", everybody is talking about they got stripes. You got to certain places and niggas say they got stripes. We're not saying that we're celebritys, but as far as around here in Orange County, we stars of our area.

And we only wanted to reach out to real niggas that we knew of. You know, like Kurupt, Jayo, Roscoe, Tri-Star, Sly Boogy. It was only a couple people that we met that we was really feeling, that we could put out there. And the project came together perfect. To me it shows the direction that we're going. We got songs for the radio and for the streets. We got the clubs out here going crazy with this song called "Take You Home".

Rikanatti: And also, we're really connecting with the New West. Of course you got the OG's like Kurupt and Jayo Felony, they been putting it down for years. But Young Tri-Star, Roscoe, Bishop Lamont, Spit Fiya, they all showed loved. Mo' Dav from 100.3 The Beat showed love. Chico from Chico & Coolwadda showed loved. This West Coast thing is lovely right now, it's a lot of unity going on right now. And "Stars with Stripes" is really where we're trying to take the game. So "Stars with Stripes" is showcasing West Coast talent, and show that we try to bring lyricism back into the game. Everybody complaining that there's not lyrics in the game, so we really took notes of that. The West Coast got real lyricists out here.

Westcoast2k: Was there a big difference recording the second project, with Cash being out on bail on the first one. Did that reflect on the outcome of the music?

Rikanatti: The way I look at it, whenever you go into a situation where you have to record a lot of music in a quick amount of time, it brings a certain realness that you can't bring out over a long period of time. When you going to the studio and you know you gotta knock out like 3 or 4 songs at a time, you know you don't have time to sit around and think about this or think about that. Should I say this or should I not say that. Are people gonna try to trip off me cause I offended somebody. You don't have time to think about all that. You just come into the studio, you vibe to the music and you drop what's really on your heart. So to me, it's just makes the music much realer. And you can just imagine how you feel when you know you gonna get locked up. But at the same time you realize and recognize that you still gotta make money, you have to provide for yourself. So when we was in the studio we was real focused, the music was real hearfelt and you could feel what we was talking about. I feel like the music painted a picture, and the picture that we wanted to paint is all about the O.C. and the West Coast, and all about The Renegadez, and all about this new sound. And just from the response from the people I'm knowing that it came out exactly the way we needed it to come out.

Cashis: And "Stars with Stripes" was way more planned out. We got time to really sit down and select and know that we gonna make a song a certain way. And I think the impact is gonna be bigger, because it's not just located in Orange County, but from all areas on the West Coast.

Westcoast2k: That's a impressive list for a mixtape. Who was the tightest to work with?

Rikanatti: I liked working with everybody. Because the way it came together, it was so lovely. Because we're not the type of artists that's gonna work with somebody just because they got a name. We gotta be feeling you as far as this music. Right now a name is not gonna make people buy our mixtape. It does sometimes if you have a certain amount of guest appearances, it would guarantee you a certain amount of sales. But people is not really with that anymore. So we only wanted to work with people who is out here doing this street music, and somebody who can spit. So it was a real comfortable situation. When we was with Kurupt we freestyled, cause he still freestyles. He's at a point in the game where he really don't have to do it, but he does it for the love of it. So they all came out to the O.C. and we just got in the vibe.

Westcoast2k: How did that song with Kurupt and them come about?

Cashis: Through my nigga Po-Z, shouts to my nigga Po-Z. It was me, Natti, and my brother HB. And they were actually coming cause they had Po-Z slide them some beats from Natti, and they came through so they were like 'Let's get down'. It wasn't planned out, none of the features was planned out. It just came out raw, Battlecat and MG was up in there. So it just happened, and it's kinda better that way so you don't have no expectations. They just came in, they put 5 spitters on 1 track. And it was a honor for me to even be anywhere around Kurupt, cause that's my favorite artist, that's the coldest nigga ever.

Westcoast2k: So why should people check for your mixtape? The market is being over-flooded by mixtapes right now and a lot of them have no replay value and are for the trash can after the first listen.

Rikanatti: Well the difference about The Renegadez mixtape and somebody else's mixtape, most of our music is all original production. That's a good thing about doing all your own production in your own camp. We used like 6 beats that wasn't ours, but all the rest out of the 24 tracks is original production. So you might take the hottest beat out right now, and once that beat plays out nobody wants to hear that song. But when you can come with a mixtape and it's all new material, that value stays. I can be bumpin this on the West Coast for like a year, and then I can go Down South and they never heard our music before so it's all new to them, and the music is still relevant.

Westcoast2k: Are you just straight spittin over beats or do you have songs that come with a message behind it, based on your experience?

Cashis: The songs definitely come with a message. It's not preachy or nothing like that, but it's more reality music. I try to keep my focus, my thing is to come with the hooks and lyrics. Me personally, I try to keep everything street as I possibly can. We got stuff where it's consequences for your actions, but we ain't gloryfying runnin' out and holding pistols. But the music is not something that's over the peoples heads, and it's not something that's underneath them neither. I think it fits perfect for every region. And the beats will get you movin'. That's what the secret is. Even if you got a message and you're saying it over a shitty track, nobody is gonna hear your message!

Westcoast2k: Is there a big focus on promotion, or are you relying on word of mouth?

Rikanatti: I think word of mouth is one of the biggest assests that you can have. If you see something on TV or hear something on the radio, people are not stupid, they realize that those things are paid-for-spots. And what we rely on a lot is that we gonna flood the O.C. with mixtapes. We're getting it to different medias as far as websites. But what I actually count on is that when people hear the mixtape, they are so impressed that they gotta tell somebody else to cop it. And the price that we charge is so reasonable. We selling the mixtape between $3.99 all the way up to $7. Of course we're trying to get paid, but more than getting paid we're trying to provide good music. So when we servicing this mixtape, that's gonna open peoples eyes for what we gonna have in store for our album. When you build that type of bond with your fans they will go out and support you and pay what the retail stores are asking for, because they know they gonna get a bomb ass project. And we got a money back guarantee. If you don't like our shit, come bring it back. We put all our contact information on there, we don't try to hide from people. Some people try to get over on you, they will sell you a CD and you will never hear or see them again.

And I'm just so confident in that material that I would put it up against anybody. If you don't like this you must really not like Rap music. I think why people burn so much is cause they buy CD's and they don't like it. Bottom line, they like 3 or 4 songs off a 20-track album. So they feel like they got cheated after that. When they hear our mixtape for that price, they gonna love it and tell everybody. I know I would do it, when I hear some bomb ass music I tell everybody I know.

Cashis: And people coming at us coppin 30 CD's at a time. Plus we shootin' a video, big ups to Crash! Right now we're really workin on the promotion part of the mixtape. We just got the vinyls poppin, we're locking down our section, and then we're branching out everywhere else. We about to head out to New York, we about to go to Canada. And everywhere we go, we rep the West Coast hard!

Westcoast2k: What is the game plan after you drop this mixtape? Come back with another one or drop an album?

Cashis: Well we're working on another mixtape right now. But at the same time we don't wanna mess nothing up. We got 2 of the biggest labels out right now that's scouting us pretty hard right now. So hopefully we can land a major deal and release a couple more mixtapes and release a full length album.

Rikanatti: But we gonna do mixtapes regardless just for the simple fact that when you sit down to do a album, you can't really do the things you can do on a mixtape. And that's just the reality of the game. Not saying that the album is gonna be soft, because we gonna come with that shit regardless. But mixtapes give you more freedom to do what you wanna do. You can grab another beat from somebody else that you otherwise couldn't get if you wanted to. Like I said, we got a track with 5 MC's on the mixtape. For our album, labels are are kinda frown upon stuff like that. So with the mixtape we just giving you the rawness.

Westcoast2k: What else can we expect from you in the future?

Cashis: You can expect Natti to take over the whole fuckin' West Coast production wise! (laughs) You can expect a mixtape from Cashis coming at niggas. You can expect us working with any artist that's trying to do it, no matter where you from.

Rikanatti: Like I said, we coming with the video for "Down For Whatever". We gonna follow that up with another video, probably for "Take You Home". That joint is crazy! So you will be able to hear us, you will be able to see us. We gonna set up some shows. We're still in grind mode, so we ain't really been doing shows the last few months. You gonna catch us everywhere, you might catch us in New York, you might catch us in Atlanta, you might catch us in Texas, you definitely gonna catch us in the Chi and definitely in the O.C.! We got love for everybody, and hopefully everybody got love for us. It's West Coast or nothin', it's O.C. or nothin', it's Renegadez or nothin'. I'm not trying to hate on anybody anywhere else, but we're really focused on trying to bring this West Coast music back.

[ Listen to The Renegadez drop for Westcoast2k ]


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