63 and 19 are the second and third tapes, out of a planned four, that KOOL A.D.—the now-former member of Das Racist—will release in honor of bus lines in the Bay Area, where he grew up and has recently returned to live for cheap. Together the tapes clock in at almost 40 tracks, with contributions from rappers like Lakutis, Issue, Meyhem Lauren, Davinci and Busdriver and producers Mike Finito, Amaze 88, Steel Tipped Dove, Skywlkr, Pictureplane, Young L and Trackademicks. The quality of the songs is happily inconsistent, while a lot of pleasure obviously went into recording each. Download both releases below, noting the nonviolent diss “Rap Genius,” raspily sung “Saved By the Bell” and goofily menacing “Beautiful Naked Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Your Face.” Then, read an interview about being lazy, how Das Racist ended and growing up.
What’s it been like to leave New York for a while and live back in Oakland? I was out there for a month and I’m probably gonna go back for another month or two or more around April, mostly out of convenience. There’s this room that’s extra cheap and hella close to where my parents stay at and a bunch of old friends that I only see twice a year. It’s generally more comfortable and laid-back. I guess that’s what people always say about California versus New York, but I think it’s true. Good Mexican food. It’s easier to live comfortably for less money. I grew up there, but a lot of my wilding has occurred on the East coast. So I feel like while I still can, I should wild out the West coast a little before I completely grow up.
These tapes are called 19 and 63, after AC Transit bus lines. Where do those buses go? I was born in San Francisco, stayed in Potrero Hill and Hunters Point, then Alameda in the East Bay. After I went to college, my parents moved to Oakland. I went to high school in Alameda. 63 is mostly Alameda, 19 is actually Alameda to right around here my parents live now, in West Oakland. I think the 19 might be the 12 now, and the 63 I think is still the 63, but it might be running limited. They’re not accurate bus lines anymore, more like memories. I wanted to name the tapes something nostalgically Bay Area, specific to my experience.
Are you still a bus rider? When I was back in the Bay I was driving this van or using my parents car, but sometimes I was taking the bus. I got the van with a guy from Party Animal, that’s like my punk rock side project that I play drums in. We kept saying we were going to Florida and then we bought a van so we have to tour now. That shit is gonna be real low-key, DIY type shit, some house parties and friends hooking it up here and there. We’ll have a record we’ll sell, we’ll probably make a little bit of money, but it’s more that we’ve wanted to do this since we were 14 and never really did. I guess I’m getting all my little nostalgia things out the way.
Do you like being on tour? I used to like it more. I could sort of foresee myself not liking it pretty soon. But it will be cool to tour with a couple fools I’ve known for hella long. It’s like the dude equivalent of “girl’s night out.”
Das Racist signed a new record deal last July, then broke up in December. You wrote that you’d quit the group two months earlier, around the time Das Racist was doing its final tour. When did everyone decide to bow out? [In July] we were just like, We’ll sign the deal, we’ll do the record and then we’ll break up. And then we didn’t even do the record. We did that tour, we finished up the tour. It was already shitty. It was almost exactly the same as how it happened before [on tour], we just knew there was the relief of us never having to do it again at the end of it. We would do the show and then kick it. Not kick it with each other. Do our own things. It was fine. I see [Heems] all the time, we’re cool or whatever. I just don’t really want to work with him on that level. Also I kick it at Dap’s house all the time, that’s still the homie. I guess [the split] was more or less agreed upon.
On “Eroika” you say Girls like me cause I act like Garfield. How are you like Garfield? Garfield is a lazy and kind of grumpy cat who likes to eat lasagna and sleep. That’s me a lot of the time, but not always. I think I’m kind of lazy in a lot of respects. I’ve had a fair amount of jobs, I just don’t like doing specific types of work. I do a lot of other types of easy work to avoid doing that work. Once I worked at a produce store unloading boxes out of a truck. I’m not even mad at physical labor if it’s physical shit outside where you’re getting some type of exercise, maybe like roofing a house. The shit that I really don’t like: data entry. Not only was it tedious, it seemed hella pointless, like who’s ever gonna look at these things and do anything with this information? I don’t like doing jobs that I find to be useless, that’s why I’ve avoided work. I think you can call that lazy in a certain way too, ’cause sometimes you just have to do a shitty job.
Has selling drawings on Instagram been a lucrative alternative to shitty work? I’ve made like $3,000 off of that so far. Maybe a little more. I got like one more leftover check from Das Racist, I’ve been living off of that. The drawing stuff is so I can have extra pocket money. When I was doing the highest volume of drawing, I was either between checks or like, Oh, I have 50 dollars for this weeks so let me just draw some drawings. It’s weird; with music, or entertaining in general, you might be the brokest you’ve ever been for a couple weeks and then have several thousand dollars the next week for some random shit you did six months ago. I just got a wire transfer from Scion for a song I made four years ago that didn’t come out until last year. It was in some Scion commercial in Brazil or some shit. It’s not steady. After you do the initial work of kind of getting on the radar of fools, even f you are consistently making the work, the money just happens occasionally. We got lucky by being put on extra hard right at the beginning. I’m having a hard time learning how to not spend all the money I get at one time. It’s happened a handful of times, when I’m like, I have more money than my parents right now. Then seven months later it’s all gone. Sometimes you don’t even notice. You’re like, I’m not even gonna think about it ’cause it seems like I’m so rich right now, then somehow it all kind of goes away. I feel like every time I get a large sum of money now, I’m slightly better at tucking some away.
Where do the tracks on these new tapes come from? I’ve been recording since last summer, a bunch of stuff. I also had a couple leftover tracks from 51. Both of the tapes are mostly collaborations and I figured I had to put them out at some point, so I figured I would while I’m working on this other project which is called O. That’s the last thing that I’m gonna do that I’m gonna name after a bus. The O is the trans-bay bus that goes from the East Bay to San Francisco. More symbolic, so I wanted to make a good little record for that.
The beat for “NPR,” made by Ad-Rock, was a Das Racist leftover. Why use it now? We got it like four years ago I think. It’s kind of a dinky beat, really. I know that Heems and Dap weren’t really feeling it. I was like, I don’t care either way, I’m sure we could do something on it that would be alright. I forgot about it for a couple years then I was cleaning out my emails and found it again and was like, Imma get on this. It’s the least effort [I put into] one on the whole thing. I’m just basically saying the words to a bunch of other rap songs, or not even rap songs. It’s a very dumb song. I feel bad now that everybody’s gonna get psyched off it cause it’s the least impressive.
Do you prefer a quick, slapped-together collaboration to making songs that are sort of exhaustively engineered by a team of people? Someone made a beat, someone else raps on it. That type of collaboration doesn’t take much, you just do your little part. A pretty fill-in-the-blanks kind of thing. Oh you in town? Let’s do a track. I like that sort of I do my thing, you do your thing way of doing things. There’s something real low pressure, where everyone’s relaxed and doing their own thing almost by accident or this happenstance shit, and then you listen to it as a document of that. Then there’s a collaboration that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. That’s fun too, but it requires a lot more effort and can get hella tiresome. Last year, I barely had one or two days in a row to do focus on something. If you want to make one of those solid whatever-the-fuck type albums, you need a couple weeks in a row. To be able to clear your schedule like that and find the time and the resources and the money to pay the studio, that’s a whole other thing. I don’t think I’ve ever made a project where I’ve felt like I had complete creative control and I didn’t have to compromise and I had enough time and money to do it right. I probably will at some point, but it’s not like huge on the priority list. It’s on the prioity list, obviously, but I’ll be patient about it. If it never happens, I’m still happy with the stuff I’ve done piecemeal. That’s how a lot of shit gets done anyway. At the end of the day it’s just fucking music.