An Interview w/ Saafir of Hobo Junction
by Mark Pollard
October 1998

Youíre a businessman, you have a career as an actor, lyricist, song-writer and producer and you have your own label Hobo Junction. Whatís your priority?

My priority is to make as much money as possible without selling myself out for the money.

What else is there for you to explore?

Martial Arts.

Do you train right now?

Yeh, Shaolin.

Youíve also done a film recently. Can you give us some information about that?

It was called Fishes Out of Water. Itís basically a comedy slash drama slash action. Itís real funny, real silly in essence.

How did you get into all the films?

I used to live with 2Pac back in the day. I started in Digital Underground. Thatís how I got introduced to the industry, through Digital Underground. Me and Tupac used to live together and the Hughís Brothers were doing a movie called Menace to Society. They were doing a movie but I didnít know about it and Tupac was shooting a video for Brendaís Got a Baby and they shot that video. And after the video, Tupac kinda went his own way and they was just out here all stuck. So I just went to their hotel and kicked it with themÖafter that they was like, ďYo, we like you. Can you act?Ē Iím like, ďHell yeah I can act. I act every day in front of the police.Ē And they was like, ďWell weíre gonna send you the script for the movieÖĒ Just a bit of luck. I was homeless at the time.

On the Tupac and Biggie thing, what do you mean when you say that there are political powers behind their murders?

I donít mean nothing by it. Because the song, if you listen to the lyrics thoroughly, the song is just a creative input on what if this was the scenario. Itís not a theory or anything of a serious nature. Iím basically saying that it could happen. The government could have a hitlist if rappers start balling making major money, like millions, like more than 300 rappers with more than 5 million dollars on them and people will start to unite really audaciously behind hip hop then it could happen. I say, you know who is the first and second MC so I gotta keep practising my aim. Iím basically saying that I donít know who killed them but it could be the government. Itís just an opinion.

Does it make you more wary about how you handle yourself?

No, because it was just a creative stab at hip hop. Iím not seriously tripping off others.

How did you set up Hobo Records?

Well the Hobo Junction is my crew. We used to be called Children of Destiny back in í87, í86. Then one of my real close friends diedÖme, him, and this other kid called Pope the Martian renamed the crew Hobo Junction. And then we jus had Hobo Records coz it sounded right.

How is the label going as far as direction and where you want to take it?

Itís going slow but itís going. And we just basically focusing on underground projects nowÖI wanna make it really prominent, like a Def Jam without the radio shit.

Whatís the history behind Golden State Warriors?

Itís not called the Golden State Warriors now, itís called the Golden State Project. And basically it was just Ras Kass and XzibitÖthe chemistry was good and so they wanted to start a group and they was like ďWho you think should be the third?Ē So they called me.

Your rhyme patterns are quite distinct- on-beat, off-beat. Is this just a way to be different or does it have its own meaning within the music?

The rhyme pattern is basically how I am feeling. I donít really have a pattern; thatís my rhyme pattern. My rhyme pattern is however I feel it and I donít ever feel the same every day. So itís gonna seem that I got a lot of styles but I donít. I just have a lot of emotion.

Has anything changed between Boxcar Sessions and The Hitlist?

Production-wise it is a little bit more universalÖas opposed to the first one which was strictly underground hip hop the whole record. I wasnít trying to get radio play. I was just trying to be a monster. But this time Iím trying to get a bit more universal because Iím the foreman for an entire click. And in order to be successful in hip hop- the way you can do your own thing creatively and still maintain and survive in this scandalous industry, you have to have moneyÖso the whole thing is to find that universal tight rope, to walk it without falling off and without crossing over and compromising your creativity.

So are you saying itís become more mainstream?

No. Iím saying itís become a little more universal. None of my shit is mainstream.

Why has The Hitlist been delayed?

Because I didnít want to drop in the fourth quarter with a lot of other rappers and get mixed in the shuffle of labels just trying to throw shit out there to see what sticks. So I thought it would be wiser to wait for the new year with a new bunch of rappers, new marketing plan and new ambition.

I know youíre gonna be really sick of this question. Can you go into details about what happened with Hieroglyphics?

Basically, CasualÖ. I was in the studio doing a song called Hype Shit and I wanted him to be on the record, being that he had me on his record before I got my deal on a song called That BullshitÖ So when I called him to get on the song he had me in the studio Ďtil five in the morning and I was in there from eight oíclock at night. I was waiting on this man for over seven hours to come to the studio to lay a verse on the track. And then the next day, I called him and I went to see him and I said, ďWhy you didnít call me back? Why you just leave me there?Ē He said, ďYou going out. You going out like a punk. You putting too much on that.Ē Like I was the shit. My first initial impulse was just to knock him out. But I knew he would heal from the beating but you donít heal from somebody taking your career.

How did you take his career?

We battled on stage and on the radio.

Are you a bit sick of it all?

Nah, I mean. I never really paid attention to it. I had a real reason to battle him. I wasnít trying to come off his name. I wasnít on no hip hop shit. I just thought that was the most peaceful way to deal with it and still get my point across. You know so all the hype and hoopla behind it, I didnít really pay attention to it.

So, when it comes to freestyling do you think it is an essential part of an MCís artillery?

I think it is a strategic part of a good MCís artillery but I donít think freestyling is an intricate part of a good MC. I think thatís more like the slam dunk championships in a basketball game.

What does make a good MC then?

Persistence, practice and dedication

Smart Bomb is a mad track on The Hitlist. Is that just an ode to the Playstation?

Well, I did the entire album in two weeks

Including writing the lyrics or just recording?

Writing the lyrics and recordingÖI mean I didnít have choice. If I didnít do it then I wasnít coming out. Let me tell u man. Record labels ainít shit, dog. Record labels are like the Mafia to the public. Thatís how record labels are to MCís. Theyíre scandalous duke. I did the whole Hitlist in two weeks coz if I didnít they wasnít going to let me come out. The reason I put Smart Bomb was just to let the masses know that Iím still underground. Iím still tight. But I gotta make this money. Thatís why I did that. I knew it was real witty and I knew it would just have the underground heads gone. That was kind of a strategic chess move right there. Like I threw that out there to let em know Iím still here with yíall but Iím doing this too so respect me.

Given that you recorded the album in 2 weeks are you happy with it?

Yeh Iím real happy with it. I shot for a certain direction and a certain feel and I accomplished it. When you hear the record, look at it like a Shaft movie. Coz the Hitlist is a movieÖ in the feel of the Mac, Shaft in AfricaÖI grew up on these cats but its not no player pimp bullshit. Its some lyrical, hip hop, hard, street wise, dope shit.

What do you like about Shock Gís production?

Itís eccentric. Itís real different. Itís unique.

What else have you got coming up?

I got a Hobo Junction album, the whole click. We got an album coming out called the Banging Theory. We all dressed like astronauts on the coverÖthatís gonna be coming early-mid next year. The Golden State Project, me, Rass Kass and Xzhibit thatís gonna be coming out mid next year. I got a clothing line coming out called Polly WearÖI have a movie coming out called DilemmaÖ

Closing comments:

For those of you who donít know what real, true, sick underground hip hop is, donít buy my album coz you wonít understand my direction. Go buy somebody elseís album whoís pretending to be the richest rapper in the world. Coz thatís a fantasy I donít need. Kind of a deep statement. Iíll let u decipher it.


Stealth Magazine is the first and only full color hip hop magazine in Australia with a CD-Rom. It was established independently in 1999 as a zine and has grown ever since. Currently, Stealth Magazine is distributed in over 12 countries including through Tower Records worldwide. Editorially Stealthís mission is to act as an historical documentation of hip hop culture around the world Ė not as a product catalogue. Each issue sees coverage of artists from many different countries and continents all with one thing in common Ė a passion for hip hop culture.


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