Where Are They Now? : Da Ranjahz

Da Ranjahz first broke out into the music seen as a part of the Carter Faculty, a management company under Roc-A-Fella Records.

The rap duo, consisting of Wais and Haph, came from the same Crown Heights, Brooklyn hood, as Jay-Z and know Damon Dash quite well. After being pushed back to the burner, getting dropped from a folding management company and finally going independent, the duo is ready to come back onto the Hip-Hop scene with their music geared towards a listening audience that isn’t your average teenage mainstream music lover.In an interview with Wais, AllHipHop.com found out what happened to the Carter Faculty, why there was no album for their 2003 single, “Insp Her Ation,” and why Wais is bringing the New York pimp game into the studio. He also cleared the air on Haph’s name and his musical genius as well as working with D-Dot and why they ran into a bit of trouble with NYPD.

AllHipHop.com: How did you end up on Roc-A-Fella Records? Did you like working with the Roc?

Wais: We were there from the beginning. We were there when the Roc was a pebble and the records used to come to Jay’s house. It’s bigger than music with us. I still go to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with Jay’s aunt in Brooklyn. It’s a family thing. We were around from the beginning. And we were managed by a guy named B-High like, “I be high.” He was also managing Memphis Bleek at the time. At this moment, we don’t work together, but for right now I’m doing me. But that’s my mans.

AllHipHop.com: What was the Carter Faculty and what really happened to make it collapse?

Wais: Damon and Jay wanted us to be on Roc-A-Fella Records. They wanted us to be the Mobb Deep of Roc-A-Fella Records. B-High and Damon didn’t get along. A lot of people didn’t get along with Damon. B-High had two artists. He had Memphis Bleek and he had us. B-High was like, “I can’t have Da Ranjahz because I don’t like Damon Dash. I’m still cool with Jay, so Jay helped me start another company so I can put these cats out.” It was another venture. Bad management made it collapse. They didn’t know what it took to run your own company. I think that at the time, they didn’t know that it took so much responsibility. [When running your own record label], let me use this metaphor, it’s kind of like a car, you have to have all your pistons hitting at the same. You have to have all your business hitting at the same time. When the album is ready, you have to have your records spinning.

AllHipHop.com: What did that do your career?

Wais: It did more to my personal relationships because it separated us. We felt like we had to drive our own shift. Sometimes in this business the friendship becomes a marriage. When we divorced the company, we divorced the people. We had to go do our own thing.

AllHipHop.com: Was that the initial push to make you move towards working independently?

Wais: I would say that was the initial push because I heard Seinfeld say one day I want to write my own jokes and one day have a show base d on my own life because I never wanted to fail and say, “Oh, I failed because of that guy over in the corner.” I wanted to win or lose, and if it didn’t pop, it was on me. That’s the way we felt and that’s why were moving forward. I think it was a blessing in disguise. Some of the cats he had under his belt aren’t relevant to the 13-14 year old listener. When your run is done, it’s done. Whoever was under their umbrella at that time.

AllHipHop.com: What’s the difference between being on a major label and working independently?

Wais: Things aren’t being done for you. Every artist, really, at the end of the day wants to focus on their music. That’s your biggest headache, that’s your biggest job. You want to go in and do music. Let the executives do all that other funky s**t. The music is always pure. It’s the business of music is when s**t gets funky, ya dig? Every artist wants to focus on their music and That’s one of the pros of being on a major label if you’re on a good one. It’s all about if they’re focusing on you. A lot of major record labels are throwing tomatoes at the wall. You got people who are supposed to be doing things but aren’t doing them. You can get mixed up in a major label. One of the pros about being independent, you can make all your own moves. You’re dealing with the radio DJs and the personalities, you’re dealing with everyone. It’s tough getting those doors open. I’m having fun with it right now. I’m in control with all of my finances. I’m doing what the f**k I want to do. I’ve got Devin the Dude on my project. I know what I spent. I’m flying him in, paying for his hotel, everything. I’ve got accountability on everything. It’s expensive, but it feels good.

AllHipHop.com: What did it feel like to finally release your own debut album?

Wais: At that time, as Da Ranjahz, there wasn’t an album. We just put out a mixtape to let people know were still here. We did a video and record with Cee-Lo right before Gnarls Barkley took off [Editor’s Note: The album Who Feels It Knows released in 2003]. But we had a different investor for that. The people distributing our mixtape stopped funding the project. This is what’s in store for my release coming soon. What’s happens as you go through life, you grow as a person. You understand? When I started off, I was 16-17 selling to stay afloat, that’s what you rapping about. Since I was growing, my hustle got different. Why not put our lives as they are right now because that’s what people feel. You gotta put that new script into the music so people can feel you. So when it’s real, they feel you. And since I left the game, I’ve been managing dancers and escorts in the streets on some pimpin’ in the streets. So that’s what I’ve been f**king with. Haph is a musical genius. He’s been teaching himself piano and guitar. Kinda like an Andre 3000 cat. He’s really musical, man. So he said, “Let’s branch off and do some solo projects. You really living that pimp life and you need to put an album together about that and you from New York and you can really rap.” I thought it was a good angle and a good marketing tool. I had the most fun getting on this s**t and telling the truth. The name of the album is tentatively titled K. PoNY. King Pimp of New York. This is something that has never been done before. Everybody from New York can’t sell crack and everybody can’t be a killer. I mean everybody? The market must be low if everybody got keys? I’m going to be the first one to do it from a different angle.

AllHipHop.com: Why the illegal business? What happened to you and Haph?

Wais: We had some things happen you know. But I don’t want to go into too much detail about me but you know… The music business is sporadic. You might get a check for $20,000 in September and you might have to live off that check for three months depending on how popular you are and if you’re working. If you don’t have a relevant record that’s spinning, you don’t have an income. I think 50 Cent said it one time, “You have to create an income to maintain your lifestyle. And do what you have to do but at the same time have room to work and to be where you need to be when people want you to be there, you know things you can’t do when you have a nine-to-five.” When you have a nine-to-five, you have to adhere to a schedule. You have to create an income to support your family. Haph has his connections on what he’s doing and I’ve got my connections to do mine. I mean I’m trying to bring the flair back to the game. That right lingo, that swagger, you know what I mean?

AllHipHop.com: How did you meet up with D-Dot? What’s it like working with him?

Wais: When we first started, we all used to work out of Jimmy Henchman’s studio – one of the realest n***as in the game. 50 [Cent] was there. Jay was there. Black Rob used to work out of there. Ras Kass was there. Bleek was working out of there. I could go on and on. And D-Dot used to be in there and he is one of the greatest producers of all time. He used to always tell us that we was the future. I had seen him in the club and I told him I was doing this project and it’s all about pimping and about how it’s never been done before. And his eyes lit up. So then he jumped on it. He’s the one that’s been helping me broker all the deals with the side artists. He gets everything poppin’ for me.

AllHipHop.com: What kind of sound are you focusing on right now?

Wais: I got a little bit of everything on there. Strip club records. That New York sound. That slowed down piff style hooks. Scram Jones is a New York producer and he did a hook that’s got slowed down piff hook kind of like what Rick Ross be doing and that’s relevant to right now. But the sound is still very much New York. The album is all about having fun. It’s not about degrading women. It’s all about having fun and it ain’t about killing 30 n***as in a night at the club.

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