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Interview by Charles Purnell / Dec 2020

Tash from Tha Alkaholiks

Tash from Tha Alkaholiks freestyling at a Save The Pitbulls event in Orange County. Photo by Charles Purnell

What rappers are your greatest influences?

When I was coming up, I liked what I saw on TV. And I go back to the Grand Master Flashes and everything. But I was way younger then. I was a big LL Cool J fan. A Run DMC fan. Run DMC was like a super hero to me. They was like my idol back then. He was cool. And I was like, ooh, if ahma do it ahma do it like him.

But I think the dudes in my Likwit crew keep me writing and influenced. We got put into the game by King T. So we was always around MC's and - I ain't gawn say competition. But when it caught on, it seemed like everybody and they mamma had a rap. So I tried to compete in my own head. Compete with the people who were around me. But we were influenced by the King Ts, the Ice Cubes and Ice Ts. All the rappers that could really rap.

I always dig Redman. That's the homie and shit. We never did a song or nothin' but we've talked. We've known each other for (he pauses to think) thirty years? And never did a song. We're of the same vein when it comes to music type.

Sly Boogy did a song with my homeboy. I just heard it. My homeboy Calico. Calico did a song and he sent it to me - with Sly boogy - two weeks ago. I'm like, where Sly Boogy been? The song is hard too.

When I was a kid, I used to be on the road with Al Green! On home school - home study. On the tour bus, city to city and everything. My mother used to work with Al Green when he was super popular. He was like Michael Jackson and shit.

Al Green's wife was my mother's best friend. So Al green hired his wife to run his fan club; back when they used to mail in letters from fans. I guess Al Green's wife, (Loudine?), was my momma's best friend so she pulled my mom into the mix. Next thing you know, we on tour and his son, Norman, but we called him Pookie, me and him was in homeschool. We was on the road and everything. We was little kids. We had to be like, five, six, seven. Kindergarden.

But that's where I got the funk in my style. Al Green the soul singer is one thing - but he was on tour with Confuction and all these different funk groups. The Ohio Players. So that's what influenced me to really keep the funk in my blood. I think that my style is funky, but it's a different kind of funk. That's me being musical at a young age.

What brought you guys to California?

My stepfather. He got into some trouble in Ohio. So he had to get up outta there. So he disappeared for like a year or two. My mom was still in love with him. She talked to him every once in a while. They still loved each other. But after a year of him being away - my mother packed up our shit and we were on our way. We moved to California in ('83?). I was (12?)

He eventually got caught. He turned himself in. Afterwards doing some time. But we was already out there. All my peoples that I moved out there with - E Swift and me is the only ones from Ohio that stayed. Everyone else moved back to Columbus. So I was out there kind of on my own. But I had a lot of family in L.A.

I lived all over the place. When they went back to Columbus, I was on my own at fifteen; living with Eswift and his pops, uncle Robert. After I moved out and got my own shit I was living in L.A., Hollywood, Inglewood Hyde Park, Midtown LA of Wilshire. Apartments everywhere.

People trip because I never went to the same school twice. Every single year of me being in school I always went to a different school after that year. I went from school to school to school to school. Sometimes two schools in the same year.

That's why I think I get along with everybody. Because I've been in the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

What were the biggest obstacles in your career?

The biggest challenge with me - and it's not just me - but the whole Alkaholiks, the whole Likwit Crew, Souls of Mischief, Pharcyde etc... If you was in L.A. in the 90's, if you wasn't a gangster rapper - that's what everyone was into at the time. King T was a big part of us being accepted even though we hung around gangsters, chics, the high life and hood shit. They could tell with the music that we was totally different. We wasn't trying to glorify it. We was just rappers in the mix.

King T pulled the Compton card. And everyone else just influenced us like: "Yawl different. Yawl don't need to be over here. Yawl need to be in the studio. They encouraged us to do our own shit. But what encouraged us was - as much shit I've seen with my eyes, I could tell some gangster stories that I didn't go through but I was there. I ain't never shot nobody or been shot at. I don't rap like that. So I think the biggest challenge was to get people to accept the different lane of Hip-hop from the West Coast. Some people was with it. Some people took a long time to realize we was straight from L.A. And people was iffy about that too because I was born in Columbus Ohio. I lived in a couple of different places and then I moved to LA when I was 12 in '82, '83, whatever. And people always ask me where am I from? Well, I moved when I was 12. Ah nigga in his late 40's going on fifty. That means I spent 80-something-percent of my time in L.A. But I was born in Columbus. So you tell me where I'm from.

But I think people started gravitating towards us when we started doing more songs with L.A. rappers. I got songs with Snoop Dogg. People trip because we got songs with Snoop Dogg, songs with Old Dirty Bastard, songs with B-Real, I got songs with Ghostface. I got a song with Kurupt, Xzibit and all these different people. And we've never been pigeonholed into one box. Which is why we can do songs with all types of different people. It's because we didn't have just one generic sound.

Now that L.A. has seen our body of work and seen what we have done for the city - we been rubbing elbows with everybody - but it seems like we don't really get our props, radio spins and hood-love like we should be getting.

With the Smoke-a-holiks thing, we don't really call ourselves the Alkaholiks no more. We grew up a little bit more. We don't even drink no more. I quit drinking all together. It was a dark shadow. I had a dark cloud over my head. I had to shake that terrible habbit after thirty years of being an alcoholic.