Taz Arnold is one-third of the bi-coastal production collective
Sa-Ra Creative Partners. In prepping for his groups “Hollywood
Recordings” LP release and trying to stick to a list of penciled
in items on his “to do” list—one being this interview—Taz
was requested by Hype Williams for a shoot in Japan for a Kanye project.
His apology fell onto deaf ears. If Hype Williams told me to be at
the airport to meet for a shoot in Tokyo I’d drop the list too.
music has the feel of hip hop but there are definitely influences
from outside the box.
I’m a big fan of music in general. But growing
up music was moving out of the punk/disco phase into the New Wave
London invasion. I’m a video kid…so think Richard Blade
and before MTV. Back then they’d show one prince video and the
rest were Oingo Boingo, Talking Heads, Dire Straights, and David Bowie—I
grew up between that and hip hop. They didn’t have genres and
lines weren’t defined back then. I grew up in South Central
off Crenshaw and Imperial and in ’84-’86 everybody was
affiliated with gangs on some level but there wasn’t gangbanging
cause there wasn’t money to be made—there was no crack.
So back then you had guys surfing and racing bmx bikes. I grew up
in the hood and bmx racing was bigger than rap. It was a lot different
before you had television telling you how you should perceive your
own community. What ever you got in music is what you took.
looking at this picture of you that was shot for some magazine. Your
look is nothing remotely close to what would be stereotypically hip
In L.A. we had these prep gangs that were derived from dance
crews; I grew up breaking. In ’84-’85 there was this “ultra-wave”
scene—it’s what Afrika Bambaataa was doing except on the
west coast. You had people like the Egyptian Lover and Uncle Jams
Army doing thousand people parties at the sports arena. This was the
biggest movement in LA before gangster rap. Everyone was trying to
look like Prince, The Time, or Cameo. So when you see me dressed tripped
out it’s because I grew up in a certain era. I’m mixing
and matching different extremes. My style is an evolutionary remembrance
to what it was back then. Look at that picture you have. That’s
a $2000 Burberry jacket. That scarf is $1000. The belt is Versace.
Those are $5 shorts from a surplus store. Burberry socks. Gucci loafers.
I’ve had that sweater since 1993—it’s an Indian
head polo hand-knit—it was over $400 back then. The glasses
are Christian Dior vintage. The hat is a mink Fendi. The umbrella
is Louis Vuitton. The bag I’m holding is from the late 70s.
It’s the first monogram joint Gucci ever made and they called
it “the Africa Print”. So when you see me its not some
random craziness—there’s a history behind all that stuff.
And for the record I’m not a fashionable person. Fashion is
a pre-packaged style. I’m more a style person. It’s about
being original and being an individual. My look is my personal style.
know your stuff. Excluding all visual media where should youth go
to know theirs?
There’s a saying about this. “If you want to hide
something from a black man put it in a book cause brothers hate to
read. The best way to educate is orally. I suggest that people learn
about the history of this planet and its evolution and learn the history
of different cultures. Find the commonality.
Recordings is the current release but it’s the upcoming release
of Black Fuzz (G.O.O.D.) that will be the official presentation of
Sa-Ra. What influences will Kanye have with that project?
First off, “Hollywood Recordings” is really, really good
and I stand behind it. Second, we produce everything for our albums.
We don’t have outside production.
nothing like “MAN. That was WAY out there. Are you sure you
don’t want to tone that down?”
NAH! We don’t allow people to do that, dude. We’re
totally internal and we handle all of our own stuff. Sa-Ra is not
really open to that type of criticism. I mean we’ll take it
and use it if we dig it but for the most part people come to us cause
they’re fans from the gate. Kanye has never made one request
as to what we should or shouldn’t do. He’s never put his
hand down. We’re three grown men—three producers in one
group. My partners are not keen on people coming in and doing that.
We know it’s a commercial release. We know it’s on a major.
We will come competitive on a certain level.
What moves you forward?
At this point I devote a lot of my time into the study of ancient
history, etymology and the history of the earth. My goal is to educate
and heal people through color, vision and art. In my case my dress
is my canvas. My music is sonic art; sound heals. For me it’s
about connecting the dots between art, vision, astronomy, astrology,
science, math, and philosophy. The music I make and the way I paint
my canvas is a reflection of what I feel inside.
In this short time span what
have you learned that is your key to your personal success?
That if you want peoples cooperation you have to be just, kind, and
merciful. You have to treat people the way that you really want to
be treated. Be respectful, strong and great. Don’t let anybody
fuck you and you don’t want to fuck anybody either. You need
to create the world that you want to live in. if you want unification,
beauty and splendor, color and magic—then you have to be that.
You have to be that of which you want to become. And I’ve learned
that the hard way. I’ve learned to be self-centered and selfless
at the same time. Instead of finding differences I’ve turned
to find the commonalities.
Since business is a different
beast what are your three rules of business?
Business is a different beast…if you let it be. Be open-minded,
consider compromise, and be creative. You are going to have to be
fluid as water to get around these obstacles that are going to be
in your path.