Come Correct.

by Joel Marasigan

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.


Your 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.


I’m looking at this picture of you that was shot for some magazine. Your look is nothing remotely close to what would be stereotypically hip hop.

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.


You 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.


Hollywood 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.


There’s 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.