Meet Knowledge the Pirate, The First Gangster To Rap Over Neptunes Beats

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Knowledge the Pirate
Knowledge the Pirate counts himself as a member of the rapper Roc Marciano's inner circle. Alongside KA, who we recently nominated as recording the best New York City rap album of the year, Knowledge appeared on Marci's acclaimed Reloaded project and was also around during the recording of that project's predecessor, Marcberg. But it turns out Knowledge's story goes back long before the recent rise of Roc Marci -- as he tells us here with a personal history that involves bouts with Teddy Riley, Biggie's girl, and Will Smith's old bodyguard Charlie Mack.

See also:
- Meat Guns, Weed Brownies, and Riesling: Our Conversation With Roc Marciano
- The 10 Best New York City Rap Albums of 2013

So when does the story of Knowledge the Pirate begin?
As far as professional music wise, I first got my start in the '90s. That's when I came into the music business.

How did that come about?
Just from being young and in those streets, and my son was ready to be born, so I figured I have to do something other than running these streets to provide for my child. I decided to start battling everybody in New York and Philly and I got discovered from battle rapping by a guy named Charlie Mack.

The Charlie Mack who used to be Will Smith's body-guard?
Yeah, that's him. He had ran into me and heard me spit and he put me in front of Queen Latifah and Shakim and they flew me to L.A. immediately. It kinda took off fast, really. I was kinda big back then. I don't want to get too much into it, but I was kinda a big guy back then. I went to Hollywood, I went to some Jack the Rapper shit, and then Teddy Riley stole me from them. I rapped in front of Teddy and he was like, "Fuck that, I don't care who likes you, you're mine now."

But they fucked up a million dollar deal, like when he was signed to Capital, and he fucked up some money and some folks got fired. Charlie didn't want to make the deal, I was a young guy coming from the streets like, "Hey, let's get this million dollars." When Charlie made that move it put a bitter taste in my mouth and I decided I had to move a little different. I met Teddy down at Jack the Rapper and he told me he was ready to move me to Virginia and work with me. I ended up doing some things with Teddy Riley. I was a star down there. I'm actually the only guy he signed other than his brothers -- I used to tour with Wreckx-n-Effect back then.

What happened next?
Teddy really taught me the game and I had a real promising deal; I was signed with Interscope and I sat down with Jimmy Iovine and I got a lot of money up front. I was happy. But some stuff happened and I decided I couldn't keep sitting around not doing what I'm here for and I left the game, went back to Jersey and New York.

But I'm a real street dude. I'm not really bullshitting. I took Biggie Smalls's girl -- Biggie had to come get his bitch from my home before. I'm a real street dude and a legend like that; I got money in them streets, my brother just caught 30 years, I almost lost my life, and I just lost over a million dollars like a year and a half ago. I never tried to get back into rap, I left shit alone, and Roc Marciano became my best friend. We decided fuck trying to get beats from people and we started making beats and he put out Marcberg. He kept beating me in the head, telling me I'm as dope as the other dudes and got me rapping again. Thank God for Roc Marci who got Knowledge the Pirate rapping again. He gave me an opportunity.


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