Task1ne on one
He’ll outrap you—then watch Ninja Turtles
Task1ne is big. Hold on. Slow down. That’s not a fat joke. OK, maybe a little bit, but that’s not where this story is headed. It’s about his big personality. He’s lively. When one looks at him, one might think, “Somebody put this man on a stage!”
So it’s a good thing he’s a rapper, then. Right? Before you retort, “Yeah, but everyone’s a rapper,” the consensus in the streets is that Task1ne (born Corey Pruitt) is a very, very good rapper. He’ll outrap you, as it were.
If you listen to his mix tape, Task1ne Verses the World, you’ll hear him transforming his gigantic personality into music that’s loud yet controlled—a sort of tamed chaos that many hip-hoppers aspire to but aren’t able to achieve. Most likely, it’s because they have nothing at all to say.
But Task1ne has a lot to say. Take, for instance, one of the standout tracks on Task1ne Verses the World. It’s called “N*igga.” Yup, it’s a touchy word (even with that little asterisk) that many dance around lightly. But not Task1ne. He barges right through it like a sumo wrestler through a buffet line.
With Imean and NERB (members from Task1ne’s former group One Nation Army) to back him up, the trio sets out (over an understated beat with just a touch of synthesized melody) to demystify the word that stands for several things, but mostly pain, struggle, celebration and taboo.
Task1ne begins the track with, “I apologize in advance for this one,” and then he raps the chorus, which is basically “nigga” repeated seven times with the addendum, “I tried not to say it but I felt much bigger.”
Task1ne explains: “I said, ‘Let’s just rap about how we feel about it.’ The first guy rapped the story of his life being called that. I rapped about how I say it all the time and people give me shit for it. I’m like, ‘Why? Everybody else does it!’ I kind of played on the fact that we all give in to pressure.”
It’s an interesting take, that’s for sure. And it’s a song that could have been completely offensive and uninteresting had it not been handled correctly.
The point is, if anyone can pull of a bold move, it’s Task1ne. He’s unafraid. He’s unafraid to get sweaty on stage (“I weigh, like, 5,000 pounds, so when I get on the mic I’m already sweating”). He’s unafraid to be different (“Yeah, I am a nerd. I watch Ninja Turtles and I apply it to my hip-hop. A lot of people give me crap and say Task is just a big geek. But that’s the cool thing about hip-hop is that anyone can do it”). And most important, Task1ne is not afraid to sound different. His new album, District 916 (a play on the film District 9), is due out by the end of the year, and it will mostly steer clear of Sacramento’s laid-back sound and will instead try to encapsulate some of the city’s distinct energy of madness.
Regarding the formation of his unique style, Task1ne gives credit to not listening to a lot of hip-hop. In fact, chances are he’s listening to Alice in Chains or Soundgarden in his car right now. “Their songs and melodies help me,” he said. “It’s kind of my secret.”
Another secret is that Task1ne used to play bass in a rock ’n’ roll band made up of a bunch of people he worked with at Tower Books. The band, unfortunately, was called, Tower.
“Tower of Power sent us a cease and desist order,” he said, laughing. “I’m not joking. They said, ‘You have stolen our name,’ and I’m like, ‘We’re just Tower. We’re five broke dudes working at a bookstore.’”
Luckily, they’ve all moved on, and Task1ne eagerly anticipates District 916, which could be the rock ’n’ roll version of hip-hop, if that makes sense.
“My songs are very loud,” he said. “Very, like, boom, and in your face—like, get up out of your seat and let’s jump up and down.”
But, please, don’t jump too hard, Task1ne.