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Ask a Rapper: Gotta Be Karim

The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place -lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good- so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to [email protected].

Note: This space is (unofficially) reserved for Southern, and especially Houston, MCs. However, several weeks ago we stumbled across St. Louis wordsmith Gotta Be Karim. He reminded us a lot of Freeway minus the horrible beard and ill-fitting hats, so we downloaded his album 10,000 Apples. It was very good. Then we heard he moved to Atlanta, so we reached out. He obliged. You're all caught up.

This Week's Rapper: Gotta Be Karim

This Week's Subjects: The unspoken battle between rappers of different genres; Durrough's apparent obscurity; Soulja Boy as a sign of our declining social mores

AAR: You've got a whole big push of these new-age rappers out there and, historically, rappers are very territorial. Is there an unspoken battle between the sort of conscious rappers and hipster rappers and gangster rappers? You'll occasionally hear a jab or two, but nobody is really saying anything too direct.

Gotta Be Karim: I wouldn't necessarily call it a battle - I don't hear the hipsters talking back. But at the same time, it's more about being authentic to yourself. I'm not gonna walk around in skinny jeans because that's not me. I need to breathe a little bit. But I wouldn't say it explicitly either. If the Cool Kids ask me to do a song I'll be like, "Hell yeah, I'm-a do it."

AAR: Is it frustrating for someone who clearly puts a lot of time into what they're writing when you see somebody like, let's say Durrough, who's got that "Walk That Walk" song where he literally says "walk that walk" about 20 times before he says one other word, getting a lot of spin?

GBK: What was that artist's name?

AAR: Durrough.

GBK: I'm not familiar with that artist.

AAR: Yeah, Durrough. The "Walk That Walk" guy. [Sings] "Walk that walk, walk that walk..."

GBK: I usually stick to my guys when I'm writing.

AAR: Well that's appropriate, I suppose. How about Soulja Boy then? He's become the figurehead for that genre. Is that frustrating?

GBK: I ain't gonna say it's frustrating. He's a young man and he's getting it. I can't complain about that. But from an art perspective, yeah, I'm frustrated. I've put in the years sharpening my swords writing and here comes someone like that. I literally be laying around the house with my girl, just playing around, coming up with stuff that sounds exactly like what they're doing. And she'll be laughing about [it].

I just recorded this thing yesterday that says "Everybody got it backwards, the building, we start with the actions of children." It all starts with the baby. [Soulja Boy's] still a young man - he's 19 or 20 - and he's running around making money, acting ignorant. I think people accept it because he's young, but he's up there talking about supermannin' a hoe. There's something wrong with that.

Download 10,000 Apples for free here and follow him on Twitter here.

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Shea Serrano