Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
Rapper Torch: From Where I Stand.
By Khalil Amani
I had the chance to interview rapper Torch, most known as one-fourth of Rick Ross’s rap team, The Triple C’s—Carol City Cartel—Custom Cars & Cycles. Perhaps one of the most curious geographical oddities on the hip-hop landscape, Torch has found his niche as a New York–bred, Southern-adopted rhyme-spitter. At a time when the rap pendulum has swung southward and given way to what many consider nursery-rhymes over lyrical dexterity, Torch has found a way to blend that hard-edged New York lyricism with the get-straight-to-the-point wordplay of his Southern comrades. Dude is one intelligent underboss!
Where are you from?
Castle Hill Projects, never ran, never will, BX, New York, 6-train, 22-bus, ya know, the whole route.
What does your name Torch mean?
In New York they call guns “torches” and all that type of shit. I always used to have them. The name just stuck. My moms even calls me Torch. It’s like a pet-name (lol). When moms calls me by my government, it’s a rap! (lol)
How did you start rapping?
You know. Comin’ from New York City it’s like—that’s a gene I think everyone was born with. It’s a whole bunch of talent in New York. It just cultivated from a young age. I always wanted to do something in music. I used to do a lot of writing—following my dreams—following through with it and here I am. Ya know what I’m sayin’?
How long have you been in Miami?
I finished high school in New York. I went to—like three or four high schools in New York and then I came down here [Miami] when I was like, nineteen. Back and forth, back and forth—my son still in New York, so I gotta be back and forth. I gotta crib out here [Miami] and a crib out there [New York].
How did you and Rick Ross meet?
Me and Ross go way back. A lot of people can’t understand—a lot of people get it misconstrued—he signed a New York nigga. He not gonna stay signing people. The same people been around Ross, ya know what I mean? From day one! Me, Gunplay—we grew up together. We seen all types of shit. When it was nothin’. When it was a dream!
I used to spit raps, New York shit, ciphers and shit. That’s when New York was super poppin’. Right now, the South tryna do their thang. And, ya know what I’m sayin’? New York gotta take a backseat to the Southern music, but at the end of the day, once you build up all that respect—from back in the day—that shit don’t go nowhere. Respect is something that’s earned, so it never goes nowhere.
I’ve known Ross for 9 or 10 years. He kinda liked raised me, ya know what I’m sayin’—to the point that I am. He showed me all the ropes. All I knew was New York City. I came down here [Miami] standing on corners and shit—standing in gas stations. [In New York] we go outside and make any block live! That’s what we do! Down here, you gotta have a destination.
I would almost say its God’s plan. You just gotta do what you do and go as hard as you can and realize that every time you sleepin’ it’s somebody wide awake tryna go even harder than you. So that’s what I charge it to. Being God’s plan—it’s like I got into a lot of trouble in New York when I was younger and it lead mom to sending me down South to Miami and a curse turned into a gift. By me meeting a nigga Ross and he took me under his wing and we been family ever since.
So you were you hustlin’?
Yeah! I mean, that’s the only thing I knew how to do, nah mean? It’s like—you come down here [Miami] at 17/18. What else is there to do? Sell your little weed, sell your little coke, do ya lil thang—pills and shit. But, at the end of the day niggas is workin’ with larger scales down here. And if I kept doing what I was doing, I was gonna get indicted on some dumb shit.
Talk to us about Southern rappers vs. Northern rappers
When I came down here [Miami], originally, New York was in full-steam, motion—and still is, but the South does have a slower bounce because they try to get across all they words—like New York is all about being more lyrical and goin’ over niggas heads. When a nigga go, “Whoa, you heard what he said?” But down South it’s like, “I’m movin’ dat dope—you heard what he said?” (lol)
It’s real simple down here so it’s like—me comin’ up in both places, it gave me a chance to learn how to slow my shit down and speed it up when I have to.
Being back and forth, people ask me the differences [between Miami & New York] and the main thing I can say is that when you send the music out, [to other artists] and say, “Let's do something, ”Southern artists are so much more embrasive. I know New York swag! That's what I am! Everybody thinks they're the shit! That's how we hold each other back. Rather than doing it for the sake of good music, everybody wants to be the shit. Whereas, Southern artists, even if they ain't friends, like the T.I. and Ludacris beef, do songs together and let's build up the A [Atlanta]. Let's get money!
Northern artists aren't really that embrasive. They're happy being the man in their hood. Niggas gotta get out of that mind-state. 50 [Cent] single-handedly made niggas not want to do anything with each other. Single-handedly! You do something with him; I got beef with you now.
When people say what happened to New York, I say 50 Cent! Not to take anything away from him. If you got the power to do that, all power to you! No man should have the power to control another man's actions.
What new projects are in the works?
Ah man! We got this project called “U.F.O.” I am so muthafuckin’ excited about this shit! It’s droppin’ Feb. 15th. We got Ross on it! We got Trey Songs on it! We got Pusha T and Red Café on it! All original joints on it. Similar to how Ross released “Ashes to Ashes.”
Steppin’ out of Ross's shadow
That's kinda like my whole situation. My situation is completely different than a lot of artists, because when it comes down to Ross, I mean, of course, he's one of the top niggas in the game, so that's a hellafide shadow. And because of the success, that's not really a bad shadow to be in, but some of his shadow is gonna get you a lot of money.
On the flip side of that, I have my own market. I'm over there! Like, if I was comin' out of his city, or if I was from his town, that would be an insurmountable shade to overcome, but since I got my own lane, own city, own place, own style, own market—it's not very hard. All I gotta do basically is do me! I'm gonna do me over there. I'm gonna support me from down there.
Touring with Ross
We just got back from Africa, Ireland and Paris. I've been gone for a month. Ah man! Let me tell you guys about Africa. It's kinda sad. The stuff they portray on TV. They only show us the bad parts. They wanna show you the Senegals and half of Ghana, not even the other half that's beautiful. They wanna show you the craziest parts—spear-chuckin' niggas walkin' around with no shoes and shit!
There are parts of Africa that look as modern as Miami, California and New York. It blew my mind! Johannesburg, Cape Town—Cape Town might be my favorite place right now.
When I got off the plane I'm lookin' like, “Oh shit! Never in my wildest dreams did I think Africa looked like this!” Ever! Cape Town was one of the most unbelievable—Yes! Women, they look Brazilian, but they speak English. If you never been to Africa, one time in your life just say, “Yo! I'm-a save this money up and I'm-a get there.” So all you artists, you might wanna take the low [save your chips] and go! It's something you gotta see.
Don't just keep settling for all the places you wanted to go to, like Amsterdam. Go to the places [like Africa] you need to see.
When people tell me about the ghetto—[the projects we're from]—these people's projects [in Africa] makes ours look like 5-star hotels. Fuck you mean ghetto? You niggas don't know about “struggling” until you see “struggle” to understand that! It gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for everything that I got goin' on right now.
You mentioned 50 Cent singlehandedly killing New York hip-hop. Do you know those G-Unit Soliders? Give us your thoughts on the 50 vs. Ross feud.
I don't know Banks and Yayo on a personal. I kinda ran across 50 a couple of times in my younger years. I like to use an old analogy from [WWE wrestler] Rick Flair. “You got to beat the man to be the man!” Ross went against a muthafuckin' giant  and beat him! Some people say that he lost, but he's waaaay bigger than before. Anybody who wants to debate whether he [Ross] won or lost, you gotta look at where he stands now. Like where are they right now? Where are they? Ross is bordering on greatness. He's right behind the pioneers, the Jay-Zs and shit like that. He's like right there. Fif's doing other shit. It's like he don't wanna do music anymore—or he can't. I don't know. Shout-out to everybody doin' their muthafuckin' thing. Beef is for suckas! Hate is for suckas! It-is-what-it-is. Like I said, you gotta beat the man to be the man and that puts him [Ross] in the position he's in right now.
I’m a 50 Cent fan as much as the next head, even though he destroyed the career of one of my favorite rappers, Ja Rule (note to Ja Rule: come back stronger than you left us!), but because I grew up in Carol City and went to the same high school as Rick Ross (Chief Pride! Albeit years earlier), I rooted for him to win and, indeed, Ross did win! How did he do it?
The main thing about the whole situation was that he [Ross] was put under a microscope. It made people actually listen to him. Before they used to just hear him rap. That's what they usually do with Southern artists. There's only a few Southern artists that gets that respect—the T.I.'s and Lil Waynes. When he [Ross] went up against Fif, they forced everybody to listen to him. And once they opened their ears and heard him rap, they started to realize, “Oh shit! Buddy can spit some serious shit!” And then, he just wouldn't stop. Then they understood his work ethic. That shit counts for a whole lot! He got about 100 new songs. New album coming by Ross—“God Forgives, I Don’t!”
(Khalil Amani & Torch)
Khalil Amani is a blogger for AllHipHop. He also writes for DJ Kay Slay’s Originators Magazine & Straight Stuntin Magazine. Amani also writes for Hoodgrown, Maybach and Sext Magazines. He is the author of six books, including the ground-breaking book, “Hip-Hop Homophobes…” iuniverse.com 07). Amani is gay hip-hop’s self-proclaimed straight advocate. Visit The Coonerific One at http://www.khalilamani.ning.com Follow on Facebook/Twitter @khalilamani. Youtube @ yahweh 12