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Timbo King talks “From Babylon to Timbuktu,” Record Labels, Current State of Hip Hop, and Upcoming Projects [Exclusive Interview]

By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Eighteen years deep, Timbo King has been around and working with several artists for years. Timbo King has remained relevant through collaborations and compliations. Aside from his solo career, he has been a member of Wu-Tang Clan since its inception.

Timbo King has been signed to major labels in the past. In addition to doing music, Timbo King has been featured in movies. Due to his line of work, Timbo King has been able to travel the world. Having worked with many of the legends, Timbo King is now preparing his solo debut.

For the past two years, Timbo King has been working on his debut album, From Babylon to Timbuktu. Now, in a little over a month, Timbo King will release his debut album. The album will be released on August 30, of thus year.

Hip Hop Vibe contacted Timbo King earlier this week. Following days of discussion, Timbo King sat down for an exclusive interview.

How will From Babylon to Timbuktu separate itself from other albums being released in 2011? My album has deeper subject matter and material. I am doing God’s work as a meek and humble person. I am led by faith and I’m giving people the Word and Gospel. But, this is the street Gospel, so I am giving you the perspective from the people of poverty. Also, From Babylon to Timbuktu is my journey from poverty to paradise, for those who know about Babylon and Timbuktu, Babylon is in poverty and Timbuktu is paradise.

From Babylon to Timbuktu is a book a friend of mine gave to me to read. Timbuktu is actually where the stock market was originated, along with many other things used today. Timbuktu had the first university and was the first city to have a temple with Christianity, Hebrew, and Islam all together. If you were to go to Timbuktu, you would see all of these religions in the same place.

How did you attain this level of spirituality? Through growth, betterment, family background, and doing research myself. Even though we all sin, I decided to follow the righteous faith.

What do you think about the record labels who try to change the subject matter of rappers’ content? People have limited mind-spans. Times are hard, the economy is in shambles, there are few jobs. Racial tensions, children growing up in single-parent homes. On top of this, there is war in the Middle East. These events are similar to those of the past, but they are under different names now. When people see the world for what it is, they should have the right to tell it.

Is this one reason why you decided to remain an independent artist? Yeah. I was always selling my products, myself, without a problem, I get my music out, globally. While it was on a smaller scale, I always had quality versus quantity. But, now I have a major independent distribution channel behind me and I am ready to take things to the next level.

Can you explain to us about your label, Real Estate? Real Estate is my imprint, my first imprint and I am the first artist off the label. The title basically says live off the land, location, do everything for yourself. I deliver all of this in the Real Estate title, street scholars understand the Real Estate movement. Regardless of what you do, you deal with Real Estate?

What was your Fortknox movement about? Fortknox was a digital imprint. It was a site where artists could post and sell their music. I used the site to post and sell my music.

Is this site still active? No. The new site is

Who have you worked with on From Babylon to Timbuktu? Killah Priest, Hell Razah, RZA, Vinny Idol, Junior Reid, Lil Fame, Ra the Rugged Man, William Cooper, overall a good album.

Are you trying to prove yourself as an individual brand? Yeah, me, the brand, the logo, the company, the lifestyle.

How does it feel to be the head of your own, successful, movement? Everything is yours. You create payroll, you pick the staff. The salary cap, the income, the outcome, it’s all yours.

Will you be on the next Wu-Tang album? Not that I know of. Wu-Tang can be pretty unpredictable, so you never know.

Will you be featured on any new releases by other artists? Yeah, Hell Razah, William Cooper, Tragedy Khadfi, for Black Market Militia Part 2. I will also be featured on Ra the Rugged Man’s next release.

Can you tell us more about your personal journey from “Babylon to Timbuktu?” Finding myself. Separating my negative and positive energy. Everybody has the chi inside of them and you just have to balance it. It’s self explanatory, what you do comes back to you. It’s a boomerang.

Ever since Nas made the statement, Hip Hop is Dead, many people have given their opinion, how do you feel about the current state of hip hop? There are different branches of hip hop. We have rebel, pop, underground, concious, military. See, me I’m a rebel, you can label me radical hip hop. Compare me to anyone who has a message. I deliver the word, but there is always rules and ethics. Even a drug dealer has to learn math, whether or not he graduated high school, you still have to learn. Street dudes mastered that, they know how to reload, unload, and clean guns, that’s their thing. Everything is science and math. I’m glad I got to see hip hop, from when I came in during the 1993-1994 period to where it is now. Back then, it was all lyrics and there was no boundaries.

Back in the day, everybody was different. Now, it seems like everyone has to be a party rapper to be on the charts and to have hits. It seems as if they are overlooking social concious rap. But, when you’re in the club, you only party for a few hours. When the party is over, reality sets back in. However, when the party music keeps playing, people are still in party mode when there are serious things going on.

Do you feel as if your movement will re-establish New York hip hop as the most dominant sub-genre? My movement is going to do me. I’m coming from the Wu-Tang family base. All I do is respect my style and make music for my listeners. I attract the hustlers and grinders and I will continue to make music for them.

Who are the other artists signed to the Real Estate label? No artists are signed directly. I am currently looking for young talent to groom and develop. Real Estate will be much more than music. I will also be doing actual real estate and my artists will play a role in this. Through this label, I will be setting up my artists as business figures, as well. If I successfully do this, I will be doing my style.

After your release, who will you be pushing next? I have some more projects in the works.

Can you tell us about your animated project? “The Brobots” they are twin robots. They come from the future, which is now. They are making Earth their new planet because Earth is becoming more like their planet with the advance in technology. Just like regular people, they have come to New York City looking for jobs. Like people coming from the South, and other areas, looking for work and to blend into the society. The twin robots are also black and white.

Would you ever make a move from hip hop to Hollywood? Yeah, why not. I’m a magician. Hollywood is another magical land. Holly is the wood Marilyn the Magician played with. I’m Timbo King, so why not? I use the wood style, I’m from the root up, branches, leaves, I’m family oriented. Holly is a wood, which comes from the tree, which symbolizes life. Timber is wood and my name is Timbo King, so I’m the wood king. A carpenter’s specialty is wood. Wood can be used several different ways.

How do you feel about rappers “retiring” from the game? If you are financially set, why not? If your business is set and you have other revenue outlets, why not? As long as things are lined up, move on. Everything is business, so when you retire, you have an account in that. Many people say they have retired, but paperwork comes behind that and it opens a revenue stream.

Are you a fan of any of the current hip hop superstars? Yeah. I like everybody. Lil Wayne, Drake, Jay-Z, Nas, Saigon, M.O.P., Fred the Godson, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Jay Electronica. Everybody is saying the same thing, they come from the same cloth, but they are expressing themselves in a different way. My list is endless, there are so many more I did not mention, even many overseas I follow. I have too many to count, this thing is international.

Do you feel sort of awkward about being considered a “new” artist, since From Babylon to Timbuktu is your debut album? I still see myself as a seasoned veteran. I have been around for years doing features, but I never released an album. I had album deals with Capitol, MCA, Loud Records, Priority Records. Each time I was ready to release an album, the label folded, so I moved on. I was fortunate to receive budget, record songs, and travel the world without even releasing an album.

However, with the 360 deals, where they want a portion of everything, things have changed. I have my own independent distribution and my focus is building Real Estate. I have a book coming out, I will make the move from artist to author, while others go from artist to actor. My realm is CEO, artist, author. Music, novels, my animation series, artists, and my label for now, along with shows tours, and other platforms of media.

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