Entrepreneur and emcee Cab Cabernet is selling more than lyrics, he’s selling a lifestyle. His Krushed Grapes Lifestyle sells cigars, wine, footwear, hats, and custom-made leather accessories among other things. In early July the man formerly known as Hanif Jamiyl of Maspyke will be selling music.
Cab Cabernet is set to release his second solo album, an ode to Harlem, New York called “Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage” on his very own Bukarance Record label. Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage is produced by Roddy Rod, RTNC, J. Bless, Declat, Tigga-Bounce, Frank Lotz and White Indian. The album features appearances by VonQwest, Noni Kai, Kat Starr Johnson and Priciliya Marie.
Cab Cabernet chatted with The Real Hip-Hop about the Krushed Grapes Lifestyle, his time as a male escort, and his upcoming album, Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new album, Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage.
Cab Cabernet: Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage is the second installment of the Krushed Grapes series of albums that I’m putting out. The first was called “Krushed Graped” and that dropped in 2008. It was the first solo album that I did after my involvement with Maspkye, which is one of the most slept-on underground Hip-Hop groups in many, many years. That’s basically the first solo joint that I did, it was released worldwide. It got rave reviews but very few sales due to a lot of different reasons. This is a totally different project. This is going back to another era. A lot of cats go back to the 90s, 80s, and even the 70s like Camp Lo and shit like that, but I’m going way back to the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I’m revisiting music, style and culture from that era and ways of presenting images, sounds, and ideas from that era. It’s a celebration of that time and where I think we need to be right now. I think we need to take a lot of that influence from that time because it represents positive black images, positive black things, and positive black people. Also, the way we used to dress, deal with each other, approach art, a lot of different things. That’s what Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage is, it’s a celebration of a lost era of respect, refinement, class, and style that is old Harlem.
TRHH: How is this album different from Krushed Grapes?
Cab Cabernet: My last album with Maspyke on ABB Records was 2005. I took a year off because I was burned out. We toured the world. I was on Elektra records from 94-96, I was a ghost writer for a long time, I just got burned out. I didn’t wanna make music but didn’t know what I was gonna do since I’ve been doing music so long. A situation fell in my lap and I got the opportunity to start an all-male escort service, of all things. It’s something I never thought I’d be interested in but that happened. The service provided various service for women only. I made some good money doing that and it opened up other worlds. I started missing making music and wanted to do some more. So I made an album based on the actual service.
The album was very sexual, sensual, and about the business of pleasure. It was also a love letter to my favorite artists from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Maspkye is known for concepts and that’s where I come from. I recorded my first demo in the late 80s in the golden era. I’m influenced by that time where you made concept albums and everything means something. I’m sure you’re from that era as well where cats made albums, not just one record. The third album I’m working on now and it’s totally different from the first two. Krushed Grapes Lifestyle is the brand and the music is all about selling the lifestyle rather than selling music. I’m not really interested in selling music, I’m interested in selling the lifestyle. The music is a product of the brand, just like the leather goods, the footwear, the cigars, and the wine.
TRHH: I’m intrigued by the escort service [laughs]. I thought this was just something in the movies. What kind of women were your clients? What were their backgrounds?
Cab Cabernet: That’s a great question. I haven’t talked much about this yet so this is good that cats are starting to ask me about it. When the album dropped I didn’t even mention the fact that the album was based on the service. I just wanted to keep that on the low. My marketing cat was like, “You should have told me that! That was juicy! We could have ran with that!” There are many different lifestyles out there that we know nothing about if we aren’t introduced to it. There are women in a certain time of life, with a certain amount of money that are at a certain point in their life where they want certain things and they aren’t afraid to ask for it or pay for it. Not like these young girls that play a lot of games they’re like, “This is what I want, this is how I want it, and I’m willing to pay for it.”
They want to pay for a quality service from a quality man that’s not going to give them any problems, emotional issues, static, or arguments. They can pay for that and use it when they wanna use it. That’s who these women are. They’re widows, some of them have husbands, some of them own businesses, some of them have male problems where they can’t keep a man so they’d rather be in control of the situation and pay for the service. It’s a lot of different types of situations. Honestly my most loyal customer never even wanted sex. Not all these women want sex. That’s the difference between men and women. Men that pay for escorts want sex, women are different creatures. This woman wanted to be held for like 4 hours a night, three nights a week. That’s what her husband did before he died and that’s what she missed. She was in her late 40s and that’s what she wanted.
TRHH: How much does it pay to hold a woman for 4 hours a night [laughs]? My mind is blown by this, man.
Cab Cabernet: [Laughs] I’m not sure, man. Regular price for a high end escort service is somewhere between $500-and-$1000 an hour. Mine was very low key and referral only. There is no website. My clients were people in the business of finance, people in music, and entertainment. They were people in the background, not celebrities. I made more money doing that in those 2 years than I did in the music business. It’s very lucrative. What a lot of cats don’t understand is women are not going to talk about this kind of thing except to maybe one person, like a girlfriend, someone that they confide in. Men will come to work after they pay for an escort and talk about it to everybody like it’s all good [laughs]. Women are who you think they are. They’re concerned about what women are saying about them, “Oh she’s paying for this? What’s wrong with her?” Men don’t give a fuck about any of that, “Yeah, I paid for it, what?” That’s why it’s a closeted industry and people don’t think it’s real or it’s not going on but it is. Women keep this very quiet because they don’t want people to know that they’re paying for these kinds of services. That’s what makes it real cool because it’s discrete.
TRHH: Tell me about the single “Maiden Harlem”.
Cab Cabernet: Harlem is where I reside and I always had a deep attachment and love affair with Harlem. I study Harlem. Harlem is a beautiful place and I wanted to capture the people, the culture, and the essence of the beauty of Harlem — just walking through Harlem showing streets and people enjoying the day –predominantly black Harlem. Nowadays there’s a lot of gentrification. It’s not old Harlem and that’s one of the reasons I called this Harlem Vintage. I wanted to revisit an old Harlem and show the images and style. I also wanted to show how Harlem is similar to how it used to me, too. There is a new renaissance going on here. Back in the old renaissance white folks used to go uptown and party in Harlem. Harlem was the post for everybody. The song “Putting on the Ritz” is about Harlem, “Have you seen the well to do on Lennox Avenue,” they changed the words “Lennox Avenue” to “Park Avenue” later. That’s what’s going on now, white folks are moving in and they’re partying with us. This is the place to be for the nightlife and the culture and it always was. It’s kind of like a trip back there and to mix it with what’s going on now. The video was dealing with the culture of Harlem and the album is as well. That video itself is Harlem Week. Every year we have Harlem Week and it’s a week of Harlem vendors, Harlem people, and a Harlem celebration.
TRHH: What’s your ultimate goal for the Krushed Grapes Lifestyle?
Cab Cabernet: The Krushed Grapes Lifestyle is the lifestyle of enjoying life. This was created out of me researching industries and lifestyles of the women that were in the service. What else are they going to consume besides men on a daily basis? What products and services are they into? What kind of men are they into? The ultimate goal is to grow the brand. Cab Cabernet and Krushed Grapes Lifestyle is like a mix of Ralph Lauren, Hugh Heffner, James Bond, and Billy Dee Williams. I really dig Ralph Lauren and what he’s done branding wise and that’s kind of what I wanna do is take that approach for my brand. I want to provide quality products and services with a huge Hip-Hop following and create something quality for my people. Ralph Lauren started making ties in the 70s now he has clothing lines, dishes, paint, and bed spreads. He’s no longer selling clothing or one product, he’s selling a lifestyle. The whole concept of that is if you buy into the lifestyle then you’ll buy everything he sells under that umbrella. That’s kind of the concept that I’m developing and working with. I don’t want you to buy the music, I want you to buy the lifestyle. If you buy into the lifestyle you’re going to buy everything that I produce.
TRHH: Who is the Krushed Grapes: Harlem Vintage album for?
Cab Cabernet: The Harlem Vintage album is for everyone that appreciates quality, classic music, not just Hip-Hop, classic style, classic culture, and that stands for something, understands what refinement is and desires to be refined. Aspires to respect, integrity, and a lot of things that we stood for back then and is gone now. The brand is usually for 21 and over because it includes wine but honestly it’s also for the youth. I have children and my son is a young teenager and I’m up on what’s going on with these kids. I’m really concerned with what’s going on with the young black male youth in Hip-Hop and the images that they’re running with and the things that they say and try to portray because they think it’s going to get them famous and rich. I just want young cats to look at what I’m doing and how I’m dressed and say, “This cat is something I want to aspire to. I want to aspire to talk about this, and to look like that.”
I think there is a feminization of the young black youth that’s going on. It’s not about the gay shit that’s going, if you’re gay, you’re gay. There were gay cats back in the 30s too but they weren’t wearing dresses, skirts and nail polish [laughs]. That shit is just crazy. That is the image of 9 out of 10 new rappers that have major record deals. They either have to sound funny, look like a girl, or be ultra-gangster. It’s just crazy what’s going on to me. I want to offer another perspective of the gentleman and the neighborhood dude that cares about his people and represents a classic image. There is nothing soft about it, it’s also nothing gangster about it. It’s just a classic cat that stands for certain things – classic morals. Hopefully cats will understand it and dig it. If cats don’t dig it, it’s not for them. I’m not doing this to grab certain people that don’t belong in this lifestyle. It’s not for everybody.