R-Truth: Fight Music
With such parallels between the two industries, HipHopDX was interested to sit down with WWE wrestler and rapper Ron Killings (better known as R-Truth) who explains some of those similarities while discussing entertainers responsibilities. The eccentric wrestler who raps his own ring entrance recently returned from Iraq, where he and his WWE comrades paid an annual trip to the troops. Earlier in the day DX and R-Truth discussed the lessons from his juvenile past, the opening act (for MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane), and what being around the late Tupac and Eazy-E had done for him.
HipHopDX: WWE paid its sixth annual tribute to the Iraqi troops. Tell us a bit about it.
R-Truth: Its something that if youve never experienced, it is something that needs to be experienced. Its awesome, its compellingsomething that you could hardly explain. The troops are there, and they are so pumped up, so day to dayvisiting the hospital, going from the different camps, seeing the smiles and excitement and interviews, and they were very excited to see us come there. Its just a love that was given both ways, from us to them and also from them back to us.
DX: What did you take from the experience?
R-Truth: Ah man. I had a big reality check. Those guys over there are putting their life on the line for us. To me, its like entering WrestleMania in Iraq. Its inexpressible. I know a lot of guys there that came from my hometown; they have been stationed there for years, from North Carolina. People from other places tooand just to have someone come therea lot of wrestling fans toobut just to have someone come there and to perform, give them a show, theyre very appreciative of that.
DX: How many guys were there with you?
R-Truth: About 25 to 30.
DX: Theres an interesting story as to how you got into wrestling.
R-Truth: I got into wrestling through a guy named Jack Crockett. I made a lot of mistakes in my young yearsI met him at a halfway house, and I tried to get him to invest in my music career. He had big ideas, bigger plans for me. I started going to WW shows with himI went to three shows, but I still wasnt convinced yet, until the day I felt Rick come down to rap. Crockett was beside me talking, and he said, That could be you rapping and dancing, and doing your own thing, coming to the ring. And once I saw peoples reaction to it, the pyrotechnics and the lights, it warmed me over there.
DX: To what extent were you involved in the music business prior to your wrestling career?
R-Truth: In my younger years I was an opening act for artists such as 3rd Bass, MC Lyte, Kwame, Big Daddy Kanethat was pretty much my involvement.
DX: You met the late Tupac and Eazy-E while pursuing music. What have those encounters done for you at the time?
R-Truth: That gave me a bigger share ofI was in the right direction; I was in the right place that I wanted to be in meeting those guys. I hung out with them for a couple of days, with Tupac for a couple of days, talking to those guys. Back then I was feeling so open to people. He had just done the movie Juice then, so he was on the rise at that time. Eazy made the business pretty much. But just to be in the presence of those guys, in the aura they put out, and seeing all the action, all the hard work they put into the business, pretty much gave me the knowledge of thats where I wanted to be at.
DX: Did you have to make a choice to step away from the Rap scene and enter the world of wrestling?
R-Truth: I didnt really step away, I collaborated it. Jack Crockett was the one who was very much into my music, and he was the one that talked me into it like, You can combine the two. Theres not a wrestler that comes out rapping and dancing. He pretty much made me see the light.
DX: What are the similarities between Rap and wrestling, from an artists perspective?
R-Truth: Entertainment: big-time entertainment. Both are reacting within a large audience. Both take hard work, dedication. Im meant to do bothI mix both of them, and I get the same appreciation from wrestling that I do from making music.
DX: There is a question often posed both within Hip Hop and wrestling: do entertainers have responsibility to their underage consumers?
R-Truth: I think so; I think they have the biggest responsibility. The youth are pretty much the ones that carry their parents onto us. Ive been to many places in the mall. I have kids, so I go to their schools to eat lunch with thema lot of their parents dont have an idea who I am, but the kids do. We play a big part in the youth's eyes.
DX: How do you go aboutand not just you but wrestlers in generalclearing the line between whats real and what isnt? This is OK to do on TV, but dont step over to your neighbors house and try to choke him.
R-Truth: [Laughs.] Like nowadays an eight-year-old wasback when I was eight, it wasnt as out there as it is now. And eight-year-olds nowadays understand a lot more than we think they do. And you just tell them; you sit them down. With me, I dont get into the baby voice. My son will be eight in February, and I talk to my son just like Im talking to you. You dont sugarcoat it, but you keep it in the way to where they could understand it also. This is real life. This is really what happens, and its just like sit-in rules.
DX: You feel that its up to the parents to approach and teach their children about what they see on TV or hear on radio?
R-Truth: Oh definitely. And you also have to have a relationship with your kids, you know?
DX: Your children are different from many other kids in that they have a father who is an entertainer.
R-Truth: Yes. It kind of goes together: my kids know me for being an entertainer, but yet they know I can separate the two and be a father as well. Me as a father, I have responsibilities. I have to provide; I sit down with my son, teach him, do homework with them. I go to the parent-teacher conference. I also set rules and regulations too. So its discipline, and theres a lot of learning. You learn from kids, kids learn from you, you teach them. It goes hand-in-hand.
DX: You mentioned the discipline and dedication necessary for your line of work. There was a time in your early adulthood in which you were incarcerated. How do you explain that to those who look up to you, kids and adults in general?
R-Truth: Experience is the best teacher. A lot of my relatives, my family members, cousins of mine, they dont have to keep running into that brick wall like I did. It took me a couple times to get it, you know? Negative brings negative results. And I could try to teach kids and people that nothing good is gonna come out of nothing negative. You could try, you could try, you could try, you could wishbut theres nothing good thats gonna come out of it. And I try to preach that to each and every person that I see, and know that may have negative thoughts and intentions on their mind.
DX: We have teachers, community leaders, etc., but the reality is that many youngins look up to entertainers. So I wanted to know how you approach that.
R-Truth: I believe that kids should look up to their parents. I believe in that. Their parents are the ones that should be their role models. They see us on TV so kids eyes are bigger than life. And I tell them their parents should be a role model to them and you should give your parent the same respect that you would give me. If I told you the sky is blue, you would believe its blue. You should believe whatever your parents tell you too. Theyre providing for you; only thing Im doing is providing entertainment and something for you to see, feel and react to. But your parents are the ones that should be looked up to as the role models.
DX: Excellent point. Are you doing any recording currently?
R-Truth: Ive been doing little recording at home but Im working on doing something with WWE.
DX: Do you want to give us a heads-up?
R-Truth: Im working on an album called You Cant Stop Me. The songs are basically about my life in general. Im a big believer in faith from where I come from. If I came from where I came from, anybody should be able to come from where they come from and make it, and thats what this whole albums about.
DX: Who are you listening to currently?
R-Truth: Lil Wayne, hes very hot right now. Trick Daddy, Three 6 Mafia, Ludacris and Fat Joe. Tupac will be all-time favorite of mine.
DX: Would you tell us about The Wrestler? I understand that WWE has separated itself from the way the movie portrayed indie wrestling many years ago in comparison to todays WWEs brand and fan-base. Nonetheless, you play a part in the movie, which will undoubtedly be of interest to many wrestling fans.
R-Truth: I had three scenes in the movie. The movie is with Mickey Rourke. It basically shows the ups and downs of the life of a professional wrestler.
DX: It will be released on January 23, and has already won the Golden Lion Award, which is great. What can the viewer expect?
R-Truth: They can expect to go on a roller coaster ride. Theres very emotional times in there, theres excitement, theres some realism going on there as well. You have a wrestler that comes from the indie circuit just like any wrestler does. You come from the indie circuit, you make a name for yourself and you have that path that you could take the right way or the wrong way. And it would show you what happens to an individual wrestler when he goes down that wrong path. You lose everything, almost lose a sense of self because you dont know what to pick which is real now, because you follow this person, that person, you follow the wrong instincts. And when you do that, you get negative results just like I said before. So Micky Rourke goes through a big-time depression factor there; he has a heart attack, hes not in contact with his daughter a lot. Its a very emotional movie.
DX: What is your most important goal for the 2009?
R-Truth: To take the World Wrestling Entertainment to the next level.
R-Truth: Right now, its the biggest entertainment company in the world. And I think we can reach abroadwe can roll right into the Hip Hop world. I want to just combine music and wrestling abroad, everywhere. All kinds of music whether its Pop, Rock, Hip Hop, Alternative, Jazzwhatever. I just want to bring wrestling a total complete package with entertainment and Hip Hop.
DX: And the most important lesson of 2008?
R-Truth: To be yourself.