Influence freestyles for the 'Cat

By Kevin Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 1, 2004

Fred Jenkins' politically savvy rhymes will not be televised. Or played on Hot 98.3.

They will be presented in an excerpted Q-and-A format in which Jenkins, aka local veteran rapper Influence, freestyled his answers. No breaks. No preparation. No joke.

His freethinking rhymes can also be heard Sunday night as he opens for Brooklyn's J-Live at Club Congress. Earlier this week, he sat across from the Wildcat at the home of his producer, local hip-hop activist and UA graduate student Solomon Freed. A piano-driven rhythm was played in the background as Jenkins went off.

Read carefully.

Wildcat: What sets you apart from any other rapper doing it today?

Jenkins: There was people like KRS and Grandmaster Flash/They had made the dash/And chose rhyming over cash/But now it's simply got to the point/Where niggas dash for the paper/Me? I talk about the worldwide caper/Not the cosmetic shit/I know that won't help me at all because time is quick/And some people die quicker than others/So I come and spit for my brothers/And that's not only black/That's white/Hispanic/Latino/Whatever.

Wildcat: What can you say about the current state of the nation right now?

Jenkins: America is a place that's doomed/From the first time it came out of hell's womb/Or maybe we should say Earth/'Cause from our birth/Everybody else going to hit the dirt/And it ain't going to be the pay/You see it's the nuclear Cold War meditation that was laid/Soon, I say about 2020/The world will be filled with clone dummies/And a lot of people fighting wars they don't know about/Like they did in Vietnam/See we don't know that route/We young and don't understand the stakes/See it's imperialistic, man/So that means there's no breaks/Only fast-forward/And we about halfway/Like I said/But soon we'll all be slaves.

Wildcat: How do you feel about mainstream hip-hop today?

Jenkins: It's ruled by the corporation/So that mean there's no origin in anything what people say/When they disgracing/That microphone/Or just in the studio/It's like how they used to try to sell Menudo/If it ain't looks/It's all about the image of crooks/And they never try to tell you some brothers who read some books/Or some brothers who chill/Some brothers who work 9-to-5 and kick the real.

Wildcat: If you could only teach a child one thing, what would it be?

Jenkins: I see why they brainwashed/I see why they got fed at a young age OshKosh B'Gosh/And all that fashion shit/Only make them wonder why we out chasing cash and shit/I tell a kid/That money is only trees/And soon all the trees will be gone/So your ass can't breathe/So watch what's going on/Who's ruling you/'Cause in the end you'll recognize/That it's them that's fooling you.

Wildcat: What would you be doing if you weren't rapping?

Jenkins: Hip-hop to me was something that was fact/I've been doing it since 15/ I don't want no money/I only do this to try to resurrect some dummies/I used to be one of them myself/So every time I rock I try to bring mental health/Even if I didn't rap/I would still rap/Unless it never went down in Brooklyn or Bronx in fact.

Influence opens for J-Live, People Under The Stairs and The Spooks Sunday night at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 9. Tickets are $10 for over 21 and $13 for under 21.