“For our third episode of Let the Record Show, Warren Peace and I met up with twenty-five year rap veteran R.A. the Rugged Man and his up-and-coming 19-year-old understudy A-F-R-O (All Flows Reach Out), during their Las Vegas stop on their Definition of a Rap Flow tour.
As the story goes, A-F-R-O — who has been called “the future of old school hip-hop” — became a huge fan of R.A. the Rugged Man after hearing his verse on “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story.” Boasting over 2.3 million views on YouTube, the song is told from the perspective of R.A. the Rugged Man’s father, Sgt. John Andrew Thorburn. While on duty during the Vietnam war, Thorburn was exposed to Agent Orange, later causing birth defects in R.A.’s siblings. The 2006 song was met with huge critical acclaim, shaping the tastes of a young A-F-R-O who has said, “He’s been my favorite emcee since I was 13.”
Fast-forward to 2014, when R.A. was holding a “Definition of a Rap Flow” contest, inviting aspiring emcees to spit over his track of the same name. Also judged by Talib Kweli, Murs, and Vinnie Paz, A-F-R-O slaughtered the instrumental, and “won the contest before it even ended,” in R.A.’s words. With a deep, bass-heavy voice and a breathless, multi-syllabic delivery, A-F-R-O shocked his old school peers with an amazing, technically skilled performance. Through DJ Premier, A-F-R-O would star in VH1’s throwback hip-hop drama The Breaks as rapper D Rome, and last year he teamed with producer Marco Polo for the A-F-R-O Polo LP, released on Duck Down Records.
R.A. and A-F-R-O agreed to sit down with us for Let the Record Show to discuss their favorite songs of all time, most of which we were able to track down on vinyl in time for the episode. Some last minute schedule changes found us shooting the interview in a cramped hotel room at the El Cortez, resulting in four large men sitting on the edge of a bed. It’s a living.
Nevertheless, the duo came to the table with a handful of incredibly dope selections, representing some of the highest points of the golden era of hip-hop. Watch the full video or read the abridged text below. Thank you for your continued support!”