Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN attempt to bridge the gap between the old guard and the new generation with guests Conway the Machine and rap vet Tragedy Khadafi.
As Griselda Records continues to captivate rap fans with a succession of high-powered solo and group projects, Conway has experienced an uptick in popularity with his latest release, From King To A God, being hailed as one of the superior long players of the year. And with even more material, most notably his Shady Records debut, God Don’t Make Mistakes, on the way, the Buffalo-bred rhyme pugilist is positioned to solidify himself as one of the more recognizable voices in hip hop today.
Having served as a mentor to him during the Drink Champ’s entrance into the rap game, Tragedy Khadafi’s history with N.O.R.E. runs deep. The vet even helped discover and introduce Capone-N-Noreaga to the public. While they have fallen out on various occasions, the love still remains, which is evident when the two Queens natives hash it out about past discrepancies while sharing tidbits about their respective journeys through the streets and the industry on the show.
To help give fans a recap of the episode, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Conway the Machine and Tragedy Khadafi “Drink Champs” episode. Take a look at them below.
1. Tragedy Khadafi On Being Groomed By Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane
During his formative years in the rap game, Tragedy was taken under the wing of producer Marley Marl, who inducted the then-teenager as a member of the legendary Juice Crew and gave him a crash course in the field of emceeing. “It all boiled down to me having a certain kind of standard around me,” the Queensbridge rep says of the impact of the Juice Crew’s influence on his approach to music. “Just like once I got that standard from them, I was able to alley oop that bag and alley oop that standard when I started moving with you. I might have been a little aggressive with my approach at times. But, at the same time, I’m around [Kool] G Rap, I’m around [Big Daddy] Kane, and these dudes, at that particular time, they’re sharks. They’re assassins, so I knew I couldn’t be the little dude and get drowned out.”
2. Conway the Machine On His Belief In Himself
Never one to lack confidence, when asked whether he’d always predicted the extent of his and Griselda’s success, Conway claims that he’d always had the belief that the crew would eventually make it to the top. “I always knew, man... Benny and West always championed me and looked up to me,” he said. “I was always like the big homie. So, I always told niggas, ‘We’re just a power move away. Once the right motherfuckers hear our shit, we out.’”
3. Tragedy Khadafi On His Web-series “On Da Chow”
In an age when many rap artists are delving into the world of multimedia, Tragedy is the latest veteran to diversify his resume by launching his new web-series “On Da Chow,” which finds him showcasing his love for culinary arts. “‘On Da Chow’ is, basically, the artist or guest comes in and makes their signature dish for the audience and viewer,” he explains. “Now, that can be anything. You might have somebody come on and make grilled cheese, everybody’s not a cooker. It’s a feel good show and the vibe is good, and you know, son, I love cooking. I always loved cooking. So, it was only right that I mature and bring it to the table.”
4. Conway the Machine On Griselda Being The Torchbearers For Buffalo’s Rap Scene
As the first bonafide rap stars out of Buffalo, NY; Griselda has become ambassadors for the city. “I mean, it’s definitely an elevated level of responsibility,” Conway shares. “That feeling of, like, you just gotta put on for the city. We’ve been through a lot, like, we ain’t get our shot. There’s a real feeling of being slighted and being forgotten about, and being slept on with everybody. So, now that you get your shot, you don’t wanna fuck it up. So, now that I’m in position, I’m focusing now. You see my brother doing it now, West. You see Benny putting niggas on. We putting niggas on the younger artists.”
5. Conway the Machine On Being Inspired By Westside Gunn and Benny The Butcher
Conway, Westside Gunn, and Benny The Butcher may be connected by blood, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a competitive fervor within the crew, which Conway points to as the motivation behind his performance on his recent release, God Don’t Make Mistakes. “I think it’s just always feeling...slighted... You gotta think. We’re not technically a group, but I’m in a group with two of the illest niggas in the fucking game right now: Westside and Benny the Butcher. Y’all see what Benny’s [doing], Benny’s on a tear right now. Benny’s dead serious with this shit, you feel me? And it’s like, shit, you get that feeling of, like, ‘Damn, man, Benny and them niggas are stars. Benny and West, them niggas is rockstars, them niggas is lit.’ But it’s like, ‘Nigga, don’t forget about me.’ That was my energy when I recorded that King To A God shit. I really wasn’t supposed to record that or nothing. I was really just finishing God Don’t Make Mistakes, which is my album for Shady. And in the middle of that shit, I actually had a gang of songs and I’m just like, ‘Man, I need another tape.’”
6. Conway the Machine On His Relationship With JAY-Z
One perk of Griselda’s rise to prominence is their management deal with Roc Nation, which affords the crew with having JAY-Z in their corner. Conway speaks on his relationship with Hov including the time the big homie showed up to one of their shows. “That probably was the most shocking, I’ma have to say that,” the gruff spitter says of discovering that JAY-Z was a fan. “Hov, man, like you said, he don’t fuck with everybody. I knew he fucked with us when that nigga pulled up to our show in L.A. at the Nova and it was just him and Emory. I ain’t see no government tier security team or none of that shit. It was just him and [he] stayed the whole show. That shit was like an hour and a half/two hours, he stayed the whole entire shit.”
7. Tragedy Khadafi On His Relationship With Kenneth “Supreme” Griffith
One of the biggest street luminaries from Queens is Kenneth “Supreme” Griffith, a reputed drug kingpin who’s currently incarcerated, but held a grip on the borough during his peak in the ‘80s. Tragedy, who was familiar with Supreme, recalls an instance where the Supreme Team founder gave him some sage words of advice. “You know what’s crazy?” he starts. “I remember one time, I was at Cheetah’s with Ching Bing and my brother Sing, and we were a little saucy. So, now I’m a little wobbly. So, Preme pulled up like, ‘Yo, what are you doing?’ And see, Bing and my brother, they didn’t know Preme. So, when he moves in, they’re like [being protective], and I was like, ‘Nah, nah, nah, don’t do this with this dude.’ He was like, ‘Yo, you’re slipping right now, I’m taking you home.’ So, he drove me to the hood...he drove me to the bridge in the purple Ferrari...but he’s building with me and he’s like, ‘Yo, man, you can’t be out like this’ and he was right. He was like, ‘Yo, you can’t be out like this, comfortable like this.’ Good shit...I love him, though. He’s a good dude, real good dude. Very powerful, very influential.”
8. Conway the Machine On Buying His First Rap Album
According to Conway, he caught the rap bug early, crediting elder family members with helping cultivate his taste in music. During his sit-down on “Drink Champs,” he reveals the first rap album he ever purchased with his hard-earned money. “I didn’t have to buy ‘em because my Uncle Anthony had them,” the lyricist says of the first rap albums he was exposed to. “He had everything. This is like a hip hop head ass nigga. And I lived with my grandmother and my two uncles, and I would just always be in there [listening], but he had everything. So, by the time I started living with my mom, I started to have to buy my own tapes and shit. So, it was probably ‘96 [or] ‘95. You know what it was, it was Method Man. Method Man, Tical.”
9. Tragedy Khadafi On Getting Props From Will Smith On “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
With nearly forty years under his belt in the rap game, Tragedy has seen it all. When recalling the first rap show he ever attended, which Biz Markie took him to, Tragedy reveals his earliest memories of rap legends Queen Latifah and Will Smith, the latter of whom would give him a shoutout years later. “Biz [Markie] came to get me in a cab,” he explains. “He was like, ‘Yo, what are you doing?’ I was like, ‘Nothing.’ He was like, ‘Yo, you wanna do a show?’ ’and I went to do the show and the crazy shit. This is the first time. I never heard of Queen Latifah. Queen Latifah performed and Will Smith was performing... He was doing some other shit, I don’t even know what he was doing, but you know what made me remember him? ‘Cause I remember the DJ. No disrespect to Will Smith, [but] when I saw the DJ, I was like, ‘Yo, I need a DJ like that nigga’ and that’s what made me remember Fresh Prince. And it’s funny ‘cause Fresh Prince, later on, he fucking promoted my album, Intelligent Hoodlum, on his show without nobody, no management reaching out to him — on ‘The Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air].’ He said to Jasmine Guy, he was like, ‘Yo, you know who’s an ill poet? Intelligent Hoodlum’s an ill poet, he reminds me of Malcolm X’ and he had my poster in the back. That’s a fact.”