It’s been awhile since we got a chance to talk to Cognito. We thought we’d check in with him while he’s keeping busy back home in The Bay Area . Cognito talked about The Strange Days Tour, how he’s spending his time off-tour, his upcoming mixtape, how he’s liking his tenure at Strange, the new signing of Jay Rock, and a little sports.
Last time we talked it was during the Strange Days tour? How did you dig that?
It was awesome. It was the longest national tour I had done at one time. Definitely an experience but something I feel I’d been prepping for for the last umpteenth years. It was a lot of work but very enjoyable. I got a huge sense of accomplishment, and afterwards I felt like I was ready to do what I have to do–prepare to get an album out and get everything ready to roll. I definitely enjoyed it and I’m ready to go back.
Right after you got off tour did you have to lay down for a few days? What’s it like to suddenly stop after moving nonstop for a month-and-a-half?
Nah I was ready to go. I had gotten a lot of hits that had already came in about doing some one-off dates and a lot of promoters that met us on the tour were hitting me up about coming back out to certain cities. I knocked out a few features for different artists’ in different states from here to–there’s a lot of places. I just kept working and tried to keep in touch with the fans. A lot of fans I had initially talked to on the social networks and I made just a shitload of more fans. The tour was an all-around good experience and I just kept working.
So what have you been up to in the past few months?
A lot of shows, doing some things here and there. I did the one up there in Tahoe. I did a memorial show a few weekends ago. I’ve been in the studio working on a side–nothing huge, nothing crazy, crazy–but I started working on a mixtape, something that’s not going to be nationally released or distributed, but just something for the hardcore fans to keep it moving. Strange has so many albums coming out that Strange artists are working on–now with the addition of Jay Rock, there’s a lot of stuff being worked on and release dates. While I keep pushing Automatic, which is my main goal anyway, I didn’t want to rush the next studio album. I wanted to keep Automatic going. I wanted to push for a year on Automatic. Basically the mixtape is going to be for those die hard fans that are ready for something new while we’re still pushing Automatic. So I’m just kicking it with that, working with DJ Pause out in San Francisco and just putting together something fun. I want to keep in touch with the fans musically and with my lyrics.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to call it?
Well right now I’m going to let the fans name it because I’m doing it for the fans. We’re going to do a poll here in about a week where I’ll post the top three names that fans have submitted and let them vote for it.
What do you think about Strange’s recent acquisition of Jay Rock?
I think it definitely brings more diversity to the label. He’s a West coast artist through and through. I think with Strange expanding and with them signing Lynch, Rock, and I, Strange Music West is definitely being molded and is starting to take shape. Now they have pretty much every aspect of California almost wrapped up with me being from the bay, Lynch from the valley, and now with Jay Rock from the LA, Southern California area. It’s definitely a good addition. It’s just going to bring more diversity to the label.
Have you ever crossed paths with Jay?
I think we met on The Strange Days Tour down in LA but it was moving so fast backstage, shaking hands with a lot of artists–there was just a lot of people at that show: Glasses [Malone], Violet [Brown], Dave [Weiner] so it was a really busy night. We got ready really quick to head to San Diego the next night so I didn’t really get to chop it with him but I think we crossed paths real quick. I was actually doing an interview when he was on stage so I didn’t get to see him perform which I wanted to do because I’ve never seen him live. We did cross paths and I met him real quick but didn’t get to chop it up with him.
Kind of a “what up” “what up” sort of thing?
How are you digging your tenure at Strange so far?
Oh yeah, I love it! It’s hard to be in contact: I wish we were a little closer to Missouri so I could hit up the in-stores like when Krizz’s album dropped and when Gates and Kutty’s album dropped. It’d be nice to be a little closer to be involved in those type of situations because it’s harder being out in the west to get in with those. The fans have definitely made the whole situation worthwhile. I love the fans that I’ve been able to meet and I think that after all these years of me trying to find out–not a “get in where I fit in” type of thing but kind of in a way it is to where I’m really trying to find my fanbase–trying to find out who I am and really get a grasp of that. I think with Strange now it’s actually allowed me to be able to do that and that’s what I’m really excited about. This is my fanbase, and these are the fans that have always supported me but now that I’m with a different label it definitely makes it a lot more pleasing. It gives me stuff to look forward to with each album and to just keep building the fanbase is a big deal. It’s awesome to be able to keep expanding and having more and more everyday: more hits on the Twitters and The Facebooks and the MySpaces and the websites and the blogs. You know what I mean? It’s awesome. It keeps building more and more every day. By this time next year, whether another record is out or wherever we’re at, it’ll be nice to have double or triple the fanbase that we had originally.
What do you think it is about Strange Music fans that allows that connection to happen more easily?
I think it really started with everything that Tech has built–Tech had a big part of that to where he set the foundation for the type of fan that he attracts and the type of loyalty that he attracts. He’s always kept his music real and he’s always been a real loyal artist. The way that Tech works is the way that I’ve always tried to work. In my day-to-day communication with fans and people in the business and the industry, I think he’s really set the bar and the foundation of what it’s supposed to be. I think that he just attracts that type of fan and that type of loyal fan that’s going to follow you no matter what. I think if Strange real carefully picks and chooses who they’re going to fuck with and who they sign, I think it’s going to do nothing but keep growing. That’s one of the luxuries of being with Strange, you’re going to have that opportunity to shine and be brought in by some fans that are real fans. They’re the kind of fans that every artist really dreams to have. They don’t see us like “oh this major-label artist, but they don’t get as much radio as they did on the last album” and then they drop an album…to see that decline in sales is horrendous. It’s ridiculous. You’re wondering “Why are their sales dropping so much?” and then you say “Okay well, they didn’t get radio like the last album, they didn’t get this, they didn’t get that” and then you say “Well okay, the fans were there to support them for that particular album” or maybe because they had that one hit. You know? That’s not how Strange fans are. It’s the best part of being here is that none of the fans are like that at all: they support you regardless.
What would you like to see happen for yourself and your career in the near future?
I’d like to keep doing what we’re doing: try to line up some more show stuff, touring stuff for Automatic to keep giving it a push and then slowly start to write and produce the next record. When I’m writing or getting ready for the next record, it’s not about just getting in there and start knocking out songs, it’s more of saying “Okay, where have I grown in the last two years? What can I deliver to the fans that’s going to bring more to the table and is not going to be just the same old shit?” It can’t be the same–it can’t be an Automatic: Part Two. It’s going to be the next chapter in my life. It’s about: “How can I bring that out of myself and deliver it to the fans?” and make it a success and make it something to where they’re really anxious and looking forward to it. That’s my main objective, bottom line. As soon as we get that okay from Strange and they say that this is what they’re planning, that they want to release the next record, and that it’s what they’re eyeing on–you know, however they want to approach it, I just want to be ready to approach it and go into that venture with them, make it a success to where we double or triple the success of Automatic.
Automatic has had a little half a year to breathe since it came out, how do you look back at it?
I think it’s done what it’s supposed to do so far as having the fans recognize me as being somewhat of a new artist because I’m signed with Strange, to really have the new fans grasp me and take me in as one of the new chapters of Strange Music. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. I think it’s a daily process: I don’t think it’s one hit, or right when the album comes out or this or that, I think it just has to continue to grow. I want Automatic to keep growing until it can’t breathe anymore. I want it to keep going, and every day more people find out about it, more people are going to download it, more people are going to make sure they go to the stores to buy it. I went into Best Buy last night to grab a couple DVDs. I go in there and checked Automatic and it was sold out for a week, so at least it keeps selling in different areas and that’s what I want it to continue to do–you know, to really build up so that the next record I can let out a lot of steam and people are already going to be aware and familiar with me and how I work as an artist.
I think that’s about it for this interview. Actually no, my last question is the most important: it seems that the Chiefs are going to be a legitimate team this year and that the Raiders are going to suck again.
Do you have anything to say about that?
(Sighs) It aint happening. The Chiefs aren’t going to go anywhere. They’ve had a couple of “whatever” games–I’m not even going to say good games. They’ve had their little lucky stint by playing a fumbling Niner team, who are also from The Bay. The Niners should’ve whupped ass on the Chiefs. They should’ve beat the Chiefs but it was what it was. They should’ve beat The Saints as well. We should’ve had it last week: our field goal kicker, Janikowski, fucked it up for everybody. We’re missing three things as a team. If we had them we would’ve won by at least a touchdown. It is what it is: if you miss a chip-shot from 28 yards you can’t really expect to win. The Chiefs are 3-0 because with the losses that they’re going to pile up, they’re going to need those wins to hopefully try and make it to .500 by the end of the year. I guarantee they’ll probably be 3-3, 3-4 by the time week seven or eight comes around. DJ Pause actually flew out there because he’s a die-hard Niners fan.
Pause and them were pretty upset because Pause flew out there and was there for the Niner-Chiefs game. We were supposed to be in the studio on Monday but he called and said “I’m going to have to postpone because I’m going to be in Kansas City watching the Niners play the Chiefs.” I know he was upset about the game–he had to have been.
They got their asses served to them.
Sorry. I had to do it! Well you know…I mean the Royals suck–
They do suck.
(sigh) I can’t even defend them.
Don’t even try.