Marco Polo stops in to chop it up with Phil Jackson on Side-B radio. PA2: Director’s Cut is due out November 12th. Check it out.
What’s good fellow Hip Hop Heads, it’s been a minute since I do an emcee spotlight, but y’all already know I like to take my time with them….Ok, I can be a slacker at times..but when I do come back with a new emcee spotlight, it’s definitely featuring an emcee you should know about, if you don’t already. This time around I got the chance to chop it up with a very intelligent and talented emcee that goes by the name of Napoleon Da Legend. NDL’s music came into my music radar a couple years ago on a track he did titled “Elixir”, and the homie Crazy Al Cayne sent it to my inbox, it’s history after that, I’ve been a fan since. So please read on, and check out the great tunes created by this man.
Deerok: First off NDL, thanks for taking the time to chop it up with The Hip Hop Head. Before we start the spotlight homie, let heads know where you from and where you at now?
NDL: Peace pharaoh. I’m originally from the Comoros (google it), born in Paris, France, raised in the MD-DC area and currently domiciled in Brooklyn, NY. I moved around a lot and still do. The world’s a big place, you can’t be afraid to pick up and go, you’d be missing out. Traveling is important fam, therefore I dwell where my feet land.
Deerok: That’s dope man, I always wanted to live that way, nomadic of sorts. Shout to everyone in Paris, the DMV, and the BK. Let us know, what’s your drive to do hip hop, what is it about the music? where do you find inspiration to do what you do?
NDL: Hip-hop took over my soul and my reality once I first got exposed to it. Like no other feeling in the world, nothing like a gritty boom bap beat with a dope flow cutting through it fam. Music has been present in my environment since birth, my pops was an avid music lover, from soul, r&b, pop to reggae, it’s all I would ever hear in the crib. So I always felt as though it was a part of me. It wasn’t until after his death that I found out he actually used to sing back in the day, he never really spoke to me about it. I would just hear him hum and sing all the time. So the love of music came naturally, it was encoded in me in a sense. As for me actually wanting to make music and rhyme came during my adolescent years seeing my boys do it. Once I started though, I caught the bug and there was no turning back from there. It was like freedom to me. Sometimes it’s so painful to be in this human body, when you find something that makes you break free for a few moments it becomes addicting, sort of like a drug. Music does that. I stop time when I make music. It feels good to stop time.
I find inspiration in life experiences, good times, anxious times, anticipation, frustration, desperation… I guess it’s an emotional thing. Inspiration often sparks from nothing. I can be having a conversation and what I said may be stuck in my head and it can become the start of a rhyme or song. So the actual rhyme is something that will always be in me. As far as finding the inspiration to do it on a higher level and exposing it to the world, that comes from a need to have my voice and my message heard and an ambition to do something with the gifts I was blessed with. My parents fought to get to America, and somehow I knew it was to open doors for me and my sister. I always keep that in mind when times get hard and things get challenging. There’s a reason why I’m here and this is it.
Deerok: That’s real dope man, I dig how much apart of you the culture is. So, your music conveys alot of positive messages, alot of life lessons, and you deal with real life everyday issues. What keeps your music grounded? What is it that keeps you from following the usual formula of Chains, Jordans, Money and Hoes?
NDL: My favorite artists always made music that seemed like it was an extension of them. Although I don’t know them personally, I can feel a certain connection with them, listening to their music. As I live, succeed, trip up, learn and grow, I discover myself and my sound evolves. I don’t sound or rhyme about the same things I used to years back because I’m not the same man. I’ve been through my bullshit. Like Cappadonna said “I came to the fork of the road and went straight”. That describes it best, cause I could have chose to take many routes but I chose this one. I believe that giving the world my point of view is what I was put on this earth to do. I’m not here to copy or imitate, I’m here to give the world my viewpoint, my perspective. I have a distinct voice, a distinct flow, a distinct story, so that’s how it comes out. I don’t put myself in a box as far as what I can do, although many people try to put me in one. I keep it true and I’m not afraid to push the limits and explore uncharted territory in the truest essence of Hip-hop. To me Real Hip-hop is innovation not imitation. Too much imitation out there, too many carbon copies. You can copy Hip-Hop, which is the case for 99% of artists rapping, but Real Hip-Hop innovates. An original can never be touched. My formula is PharaohGamic and Napoleonic, point blank. As long as it’s based on the expression of my feelings and my reality I stand by it. I can talk about Jordans and women etc, cause I live that too, we live a materialistic lifestyle, which is why hip-hop is often materialistic. 95% of us living in the US can’t honestly say they don’t live a materialistic lifestyle, our bananas are wrapped in plastic bags… so you can’t even front. The water we drink says Poland Spring on it. We are smothered in materialism. Until you see me shacked up on Mount Kilimanjaro, I’ll be living like that. However, when I talk about it, it’s going to be flavorful street poetry. Words intertwining like a mosaic, like Picasso and Dali Salvador ciphering on the corner of Nostrand and Flatbush kicking rhymes so to speak. Everything can’t always be black and white. However at the end of the day we are responsible for what we say as MCs, as the voice of the oppressed and under privileged. We know the babies are listening to us and looking up to us, and I don’t agree with raising the babies to act like clowns and becoming victims of the system. So I balance my expression out. We are masters of our minds like we are masters of our lives. The mind is supposed to serve us and not the other way around. Therefore, my rhyme has to reflect as honest depiction of where I stand. I may pop shit when I start feeling myself, but I’ll also throw in a few jewels for the subconscious or the perceptive ones out there. That’s not even something that has to be forced with me.
Deerok: I think the first joint that put my ears on to your music was that track “Elixir”, you spit some real bars on that …to be labeled a conscious rapper,…is that fair to say?
NDL: That’s peace. Credit my brother Crazy Al Cayne for lacing that beat back in ’95. That beat evoked that golden era essence right there. We resurrected a whole catalogue of his ’95 beats on “The SugarCayne Experiment project”. He built a time machine for me to get in that particular zone to spit those bars right there. I’m not a big fan of “labeling” personally, but it’s something you can’t escape, it’s how the human mind works. Yea, I am conscious, but I do irrational shit too. I’m known to drop jewels in my songs, but I’ll also make some wild statements. Music touches the subconscious probably more than the consciousness. I prefer to call it “Reality Rap” I feel as though that term encompasses more of what I represent as an artist and emcee.
Deerok: That’s whats up. You just recently dropped your latest album “Awakening”…the title of the album.. why did you gave it that name?
NDL: I was actually juggling between different album titles, until that word popped up in my head and I knew that was it. Awakening represents so many things to me. The world as we know it ended at the end of 2012 along with the Mayan calendar, we are in a brand new era, where there a shift in energy and consciousness among us. Therefore, the old ways died, and the new ways are awakening. This is my first official full length album, which to me represented my awakening to the world as an artist. From the jump I tell you what I’m about on this album. Also, the fact that I’m awakening means that this is just an introduction and a prelude of what’s to come. It’s my emancipation, artistically and career wise.
Deerok: What producers did you work with on this project? What was the tone you was trying to set?
NDL: On this project I only worked with producers, who I personally know. There’s Alsoprodby from France, Mudd Beats from VA, Dus from Jersey, UnOwn from DC, Aureli1 aka Tiga from Gabon, Barron Bass from NYC and Uzi Beats from Canada all of whom laced me with the right mood of tracks for this project. I was really looking for soulful slash gritty sounds for this project. I let the beats dictate the flow and content, wasn’t much premeditated on this album. I would hear a beat I felt and just go in, no questions asked. Laid it down flat, didn’t rewrite or revisit anything. Me and my brother C Truth had a whole conversation we recorded that I spliced in here and there to narrate the album. I’ve been a fan of interludes for a while notably from “Only Built for Cuban Linx”, but also other albums in the 90s. I wanted to use them as a glue to tie the whole project together and make it a cohesive body of work. People have to understand it’s more than just rhymes and beats, it’s our lives, me, my peoples and the producers. It’s the mark that will stay after we depart from earth.
Deerok: Life after “Awakening”, what is Napoleon Da Legend working on now? What can we expect from you in the near future?
NDL: Shortly after dropping awakening, I started working with DJ Bazarro from Beatminerz Radio on his Dysfunkshunal Familee album. We met at an event in Brooklyn, from then on he had tracks that needed to get done and I got on them. We later performed together at the Public Assembly and he asked if I wanted to be a member of the group comprised of him, D-Roc and Sour Life Phoenix. I accepted and we started hitting the road doing shows and interviews in NY, Philly, DC and Tampa. We recently put out a video “If the World Ended” directed by Crazy Al Cayne and EP called the “Purge”, which is a free download, while we put the finishing touches of the album “Family Matters”.
During that same period, I was asked to play the leading character in an episode called “Be Careful What You Wish For” part of an upcoming Horror series called “The Devil May Care” by director Cyril Mahe, which is available On Demand. He told me I had natural talent as far as acting and it was something different for me artistically. In this situation, I’m given the script and not writing it. It was a great experience for me and enjoyed the whole process of putting the film together.
Also, me and my homie CF reconnected on the set of that film, which he was featured in also. We’ve been knowing each for a while through different friends of ours. He’s currently signed to Viper Records. So during the production stages of the film we also recorded a few tracks together and are working on an EP project together as well.
As for me, I’m always recording music, so stay tuned for new heaters coming from this side of the peninsula.
Deerok: Any plans for some over-sea exposure? Have you been reaching hip hop heads across the pond?
NDL: I definitely do this for the world to hear, don’t matter where you from, we all living this human experience and vibes resonate within us the same. I recently collaborated with a singer from Mali named Iba Diabate, we went in the lab and cooked up something quick and shot a video a few days later. I don’t put restriction on where I can take Hip-Hop as I said earlier. I’ve worked with legendary French MC Rockin Squat of the group Assassin in the past also. Music is my IronMan suit, I’m building it up to let it help me fly around the world. I look forward to rocking at different places for different cultures. That’s really what it’s about, Hip-Hop is a worldwide thing. There’s blessing that comes with it. Every verse can turn into a plane ticket (Laughs).
Deerok: I dig that, I hope to see that for you in the future. So, for heads that want to check out past works..What would you say they should check out and where can they get it?
NDL: Well for starters, I put out an EP called “The Myth or The Legend” in 2010, you can find it online on Amazon and other sites. I released single for it called “Jewelz pt II” precursor to “Jewelz pt III” on “Awakening”, which I shot videos for both songs. A year later Crazy Al Cayne and myself released a free mixtape named “The SugarCayne Experiment” Vol. 1 that you can download on www.sugarcayne.bandcamp.com. We shot a video for almost every track on the project, which you can see on youtube.com. I also have a channel on Pandora, which plays joints from these.
Deerok: How do you feel about what’s going on with Hip Hop today? The over saturation of music that technology has allowed, and the state of the culture as you see it as an artist?
NDL: Hip-Hop is and always will be. There’s great Hip-Hop being made today still, a lot of it may not be as visible on a mainstream level. But if that’s what you yearn for, it’s not hard to find. People nowadays see it as a job and livelihood, whereas when I started it was something I could not live without. Even so called “underground” artists now are gimmicky and try to sound “underground”. But as fans and consumers of the art, we are empowered by having the choice for what to check for and not to check for. We decide by having control of what plays through our speakers and in our headphones simple and plain. Music is always going to reflect the era and the mood of the time. Everybody is hustling to live and survive and that’s how the music sounds. Big business has its hand in it to so it’s going to be a lot of the same songs and artists heard on the major platforms. However, the internet leveled the playing field somewhat and is giving artists a chance to expose their work and create a followership. I believe that is a great thing. There are blog such as www.therealhiphophead.net who post the bangers, which to me is the essence of Hip-Hop, which makes it easy for the average listener who doesn’t have time to go out and “dig” for what’s dope out there. Hip-Hop is omnipresent, focus on what you love, ignore what you don’t and keep it moving. There’s something for everyone out there. Variety is a good thing. As much as I love M.O.P. for example, I wouldn’t want everything to sound like that. Let M.O.P. be M.O.P. and do you. Give back to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar. And give Napoleon Da Legend his shit back too.
Deerok: Indeed I agree with that. So tell us, when you’re not making music, who are you checking for? Who do you like listening to when you throw the headphones on?
NDL: I check for a lot, I’ve been known to listen to a lot of Reggae, like Damian Marley and Capleton to name a few, it’s a deep vibe, inspires me and gets me through the day. As far as Hip-Hop, I’m feeling Roc Marciano’s last album, may throw on some Masta ace, some G Rap, some Wu, classic Mobb Deep. I listen to a lot of 90s shit, reminds me of that time growing up you know. I check for the new artists on the come up to catch a vibe of where their mind is at too.
Deerok: I can dig it. Well NDL, just want to give thanks for taking the time to be on the spotlight homie! Before we wrap it up, where can heads hit you up for Booking, Collabs, or just to show love?
NDL: Peace, thanks for having me, you’ve been holding me down for a minute now and I give thanks to that. You have a powerful blog that heads should check for on the daily. For collabs, you can email email@example.com. Furthermore, hit me up on Twitter and Instagram @TeamNDL for updates and randomness and also on www.facebook.com/napoleondalegend. Stay blessed and prosper. Peace!
The homie Phil Jackson has Rich Quick on his Side-B Radio show and the homie kicks a freestyle. Rich Quick’s Sad Songz is out now.
Wanted to throw this up from the homie Phil Jackson of Side-B Radio. Check it out.
I caught up with Hakim Green a day after the 24 hours of peace event held in the city of Newark, NJ to discuss the event and the next steps to take to keep the movement going. Please go to www.24hrsofpeace.wordpress.com for more information.
So, awhile back I decided to run down a few of the producers I was checking for, and I named five out of many that I enjoy production from..and the names I mentioned many would know, but one I think had some folks scratching their heads like “Who?”, and that one name belongs to French Producer Keno Beats, who now goes by Cool FD. So as to get heads to better know this talented dude, I decided to get him on the spotlight, so read on and see why I put him on my list.
Deerok: Peace Cool FD, thanks for taking the time to be on the producer spotlight…before we dive into the interview, I always like to start it off by having you let heads know where you hail from?
Cool FD: I am from Orleans, France. This is a cool city in the south of Paris. One hour road trip. Life here is calm, not too fast and this is what I need to make my music and educate my children.
Deerok: Shout to everyone out your way. Now, being that you’re from France, how did you Get into hip hop, how big is the influence of the culture where you’re from? Who if anybody gave you the influence to start producing these great songs?
Cool FD: Wow, thanks for the “great songs” mention homie ! To be honest, I got into Hip Hop by myself. My parents used to listen to classic french songs, so I didnt get into it, thanks to soul music or something, Feel me? I remember when I bought my first rap CD when I was 10. It was Arrested Development, then Nas and Warren G. I couldnt understand a word, but the energy talked to me. It was also the beginning of the blogs on the Internet, so I was here, sitting in front of the computer for hours, looking for anything about this new thing to me : HipHop music.
The movement was already big here in France, thanks to groups like La Cliqua, NTM, I Am. But once again, this was all in Paris or Marseille (another big city, in the south of France). I had to make my own hiphop education. I started it with US hip hop music.
My first step in the producing thing ? DJ Premier gave me the influence .. I remember when I heard “Nas is Like” on the radio … I was like “I wanna do that too!”
Deerok: Man, that’s real dope how you found your way into Hip Hop. Tell us, what’s your process in creating a beat? How do you find inspiration?
Cool FD: Honestly, to me it is all in the sample. I can be looking for that good sample for hours. I look for emotion, energy. Daily life gives me the inspiration and, for an unknown reason, I always find a sample that illustrates my mood. Then I chop it up, and chose the drum kit that fits the best to it.
Then I start the beat with a constant idea on my mind : is this beat perfect for an emcee to speak on it ? That is really important : I want every one of my beats to be perfect for a real raw rap track. Could it be calm or nervous, my beats have to be ready for an efficient recording session. I want my music to be able to send my vibe to the emcee. That is my way to speak the international language of this music !
Deerok: I can dig it! Let us know, what’s your weapons of choice when creating a beat? what machine or software do you use to produce the magic?
Cool FD: Cool Edit Pro, (Laughs). Hell yeah man, Cool Edit Pro since day one! Also, a midi board to play the bass. Surprising?
Deerok: Not suprising at all, you a master with Cool Edit. So, who are some of your favorite emcee’s you like producing for?
Cool FD: Definitely Don Streat and S.O.N., my Baltimore fam. They held me down for 2 years. They are my first international collaborations. Working with these talented dudes definitely increases my skills. I want to thank them for that.
But there are many others : Mitch L Hennessy, Innocent?, Macabeats, SdotKeen, just to name a few.
Deerok: Shout to all them dudes. Let us know some emcce’s you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Cool FD:Termanology, Joell Ortiz, Apollo The Great …but the list is longer than that!
Deerok: I can see you making some bangers with those dudes. How would you describe your sound? What do you expect the end product to be when you start making a beat?
Cool FD: I would say that I not only make beats, I mean I really work to produce songs that can touch the people. So I want it technically perfect, and emotionnaly even better.
Deerok: I understand completely. What projects are there that heads can check out, those unfamiliar with your production?
Cool FD: The Bmore2France project is a good start for those who are not familiar with my name. I produced this 19 track album for three Bmore MCs : Don Streat, S.O.N., and Lord Baltimore. I did it under my previous name (Keno Beats), but it is not that old (released in February) and I am still very proud of it. You guys can check it out here :
Deerok: Check that out y’all. What’s in the works for Cool FD in the near future? what can we expect from you?
Cool FD: A lot of good things are coming for Cool FD. First I have this collaborative album with Don Streat, named “Bare My Soul”. Don Streat and I have a lot of secret files that need to be heard and it will be out at the end of August! I’m also working with Macabeats on a common EP.
On another hand, i recently enter a french label named “Ma Magnific Music”. This is a really talented crew of french emcees and beatmakers. Dope things are coming on this side of my business too.
Deerok: That’s real dope I’m trying to hear all of that when it finally drops. Tell us, when not making music who do you check for musically, who you diggin in Hip Hop right now?
Cool FD: I try to open my ears and mind to any upcoming cats. Thats why I visit your blog every day. I’m always ready to discover a brand new cat that could give me the motivation to be a better beatmaker. As I told you, I look for energy, the name doesnt matter.
But if I have to mention a name, i would say Statik Selektah. This man is a beast and runs his career in a really real and clever way. People need to recognize.
Deerok: Indeed my friend, shout to Statik Selektah, he’s one of my favorites too. Ay Man I want to thank you for being on the spotlight, before we shut it down homie, let heads know where they can hit you up for production, or just to hit you up and show love.
Cool FD: You can hit me up on facebook (www.facebook.com/itscoolfd) or on twitter (www.twitter.com/itscoolfd) or on my blog (itscoolfd.wordpress.com). Who ever you are, and where ever you live, let’s talk and make things happen. As a last word, I really wanna thank you for this interview. You support me for a while, and i respect that. Thanks to all your visitors too. Keep doing what you do because you are one of the few who keep it real. Salute.
There you go..now you can see why I picked the homie as one of my favorites right now. I want to thanks Cool FD for taking the time and now it’s time to shut the spotlight off until the next time. SALUTE!
Man I’m on a roll with these Emcee Spotlights, and I hope I’m introducing some very talented artists to y’all eyes and ears. This edition is no different, in which, I got to chop it up with a very talented lady from the DMV. Tese Fever is somebody i got put on to listening to the homie Born Unique’s music. Apart of the Twisted Irish team, Tese Fever brings just as much energy and lyricism as her male counterparts. I got to ask some questions to find out what makes Tese Fever click, you can check it out below.
Deerok: Tese thanks for taking the time to be on the Emcee Spotlight, as I always like to start it off, let heads know where you from?
Tese Fever: I’m from VA. I live in DC now.
Deerok: Shout to err’body in the DMV area, That’s whats up. How you get into rapping, what influences did you have, that made you pick up the mic, and spit those rhymes?
Tese Fever: My older brothers first and foremost. They’d listen to a lot of Bone Thugs, Spice One, Scarface…this was in like ’94-’95. So I began to freestyle with them, and they were like “Yo you’re good.” So it just went from there. I think Jay’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’ kinda gave me that extra push at it, though. That album made me wanna write, rap every day. And I did.
Deerok: I dig that, who’s a better influence than your siblings. You’re apart of the Twisted Irish crew, how did that come about? How did you come to be apart of that camp?
Tese Fever: That’s I and my partner Pete Twist’s label. We made it an LLC earlier this year. The name’s kind of a double entendre. I’m black and Irish. So that’s part of where the “twisted” comes from and then of course, my partner’s name is Twist, and we have another artist (Born Unique) who’s 100% Irish. I had no idea until after we came up with the name. So it’ll all pans out (Laughs).
Deerok: Word! Shout to Pete Twist and hope Born keeping his head up. Now, being a female in hip hop, and seeing the many female emcees that paved the way before you, do you find it hard to garner the respect of your male peers in the rap game?
Tese Fever: Nah. I don’t find it hard. I respect the frontiers like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte who were advocates for women in Hip Hop and giving us a platform. Music has also changed too, and now women are being heard more no matter the genre or topic so I feel comfortable making the music I make, and I have mostly a male fan base I’d say, so it works out.
Deerok: Well I’m definitely a fan, but for heads looking to check for your music, what material is out there right now from Tese Fever, that they can rock too right now?
Tese Fever: I have 2 mixtapes thus far- ‘Fever Day’ from 2008 and ‘Stance Of A Fallen’ is about 2 years old. That tape was nominated for a few awards so that’s my baby (Laughs). But I have some new gems, too. My ‘Victory’ and ‘Massacre’ videos are both on YouTube, there’s some new freestyles on my soundcloud page (http://Soundcloud.com/Tese-Fever), and also some exclusives on my bandcamp page (http://TeseFever.bandcamp.com).
Deerok: Check them joints out. What’s in store for you the rest of 2013? Any projects in the wings that Hip Hop heads can look forward to from Tese Fever?
Tese Fever: Yeah. I’m currently working on ‘The Vintage Installment’ which is a series of videos. Some of which may be placements for my next project, but then the others are just dope joints I felt needed shine. I didn’t wanna do the conventional “drop a mixtape” thing I wanted to do something different so I decided that instead of dropping a tape, why don’t we just throw videos out, and let that be that. I’m also recording for ‘Bull$hit & Ble$$ings. I wanna make that an LP but I’m not sure what it is just yet. We’re still in the early stages.
Deerok: That sounds dope, Looking forward to checking that out when you finally drop them. After following you on the social networks I’ve noticed you’re a big sneaker head, you got some dope kicks, how many pair do you own? what’s your favorite kicks that only come out on rare occasion?
Tese Fever: Aww man(Laughs). I have around 400 or so. Literally a shoe for every day of the year. My favs are probably the South Beach Lebron 8′s, which were a limited release, the Nylon Magazine Dunks- also limited- and my ‘Football Pack’ Air Max 1′s.
Deerok: Man, that’s a mean kick game, real rap. When you’re not making the music, who do you check for musically right now?
Tese Fever: I really like Wale. Been getting into him a lot lately. Kendrick Lamar is like the hip-hop God to me right now (Laughs), and then there’s some indie artists I dig too like RA the MC, Lyriciss…but I’m actually more of an R&B lover. Have a lot of 80′s & 90′s music in my playlist now…also been playing a lot of Miguel, Kelly Rowland, Beyonce…
Deerok: I can dig it. Do you think the state of hip hop is in good condition right now with what you hear from these new artists?
Tese Fever: Yes, yes I do. I think we’re pretty safe with Wale and Kendrick. Both extremely talented and their content, word play, delivery are so retro hip hop. I’m actually glad we have these guys.
Deerok: Word, Kendrick that dude…And you’re that lady, and I thank you for taking the time to be in the spotlight. Before we shut the Spotlight off, let heads know how they can hit you up for collabs, booking, or just to show love.
Tese Fever: For booking, folks can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m on the social networks heavy so they can also throw me lines/shouts on those too- Twitter: @TeseFever – IG: @TeseFever…the love is always appreciated.–
Well That’s it folks, another spotlight in the books, I want to thank Tese Fever for taking the time to be on the spotlight, and make sure to check for her new music on the blog. Now I got to shut this spotlight off, cause I got bills to pay. PEACE!!!!
Here we are again with another edition of Emcee Spotlight. This time we got a talented emcee from the New England area who is apart of a talented collective called The EMS Crew, who talented dudes like M-Dot, Mayhem are apart of. I’ve been following Revalation for a minute now musically and on the social network and dude’s dedication and drive is second to none. I got a chance to chop it up with him and here’s how it went down. Read on…..
Deerok: Revalation thanks for taking the time to be on the spotlight homie. As I always like to start the spotlight, by asking where you hail from?
Revalation: I hail from a metabolical universe known as New Bedford, MA aka the Secret City (one hr. south of Boston) by way of Bronx, NY.
Deerok: Shout to everybody in the Bean and New Bedford, no doubt. Now, you go by Revalation right? What’s the meaning behind the moniker? Also, how did you get into the rap game? who or what were you’re influences to start rhyming? Tell us something.
Revalation: I chose Revalation based on what it represents in the bible and just made it and adjusted the spelling to make it my own. I related to it because so much bullshit was going on in the world and the revelation was the end of all that and the start of a new beginning. I felt like I was trying to bring that attitude to hip-hop. I was also 14 when I came up with the name so I had high ambitions of making a difference, but then the name just stuck over the years. I got serious about the rap game in college. Some of my influences range from 2pac to The Temptations and everything in between. I just love music, and my grandfather used to be in a Doo Wop group and I had a great uncle that was in opera so music runs in the family.
Deerok: Funny you say Doo Wop, cause I kinda started getting into that type of music exploring on Spotify, so that’s real dope homie. Tell us about EMS. first let us know who’s apart of EMS, and how did you link up with these group of guys to become a force in the New England hip hop scene?
Revalation: Well EMS is me, M-Dot, Mayhem, Kore, Strick 9, Desco, Ty Quoddy, Benefit and Undu Kati. There are several affiliates as well but that’s the core of us. I met M-Dot and Mayhem in college through rap shows and word of mouth on campus. We linked up and over the years, did hundreds of shows all over the world and expanded the empire into what it is now and we want to continue growing.
Deerok: That’s wassup! Big salute to all them dudes. For heads unfamiliar to your music, what do you have out there heads should check out to become more familiar with Revalation? What are some joints you would deem those “Listen to this first” joints?
Revalation: Definitely check out my first mixtape Commercial Interruption, my duo mixtape with Strick 9, Commercial Posion and the Run MPC album. Notable tracks from those CDs, I’d say Bill of Rhymes, New Worth, Shutcha Mouth, EMS Is Ready, We’re Coming, The Goods ft. Mayhem (Of EMS), and my New Single “Here We Go ft. Dominique Larue”
ft. M-Dot & Revalation
Deerok: Aight, ya heads check that out. So lets touch on the future fam, Whats in the works for you? I know you’re working a new project, can you give heads some insight as to what we can expect from this album? Who will we see featured on there, emcee and production wise?
Revalation: Well, currently I’m working on “Feature Presentation” the 2nd tape in a three part series called “The Revalation Will Be Televised” series. First was “Commercial Interruption” which was mostly me going in over industry beats with a few originals, next is “Feature Presentation” which is all original material but every track has a feature, whether it’s a 2-3 person track or a big posse cut. And then finally “Emergency Broadcast” the final tape. All tapes in the series are TV/Movie Themed. As far as features for this tape and production I don’t wanna give away anything yet but of course I got the whole EMS team on there and some dope notable underground names along with production from all over the globe including DJ Brans (France), Soulslicers (Switzerland), Symphonik Bang (Switzerland), MidiFlash (Germany), SoulPete (Poland), Gajos (Poland), Empne (Greece), Soul Infected (Finland), Lp2 (Denmark) and of course some of my US peoples like Explizit One (Lynn, MA), Skammadix (Long Beach, NY), Shade Cobain (Pittsburgh, PA), Reckonize Real (Queens, NY), ToneDeff Cutz (Queens, NY), Jerz (Tewksbury, NJ), Gee Wiz (Baltimore, MD), Renaissance (Fall River, MA) and more Look for that to be out late summer!! My girl was the one that really pushed me hard to put something New out. I had been doing features and jumping on other peoples projects for awhile now. You can hear me on Joe Lazarus’ upcoming album “INK”, Soulslicers New album “Slice of Life” and DJ Brans “The Dynamite Beats” album. So Now I’m getting back to focusing on my projects after 3 years.
Revalation – I Don’t Write Freestyle
Deerok: Looking forward to that homie. What would you say is the hardest part of putting an album together? How do you put something together and make sure it’s cohesive throughout the entire listening? What thought process do you go through?
Revalation: I think the hardest part of putting an album together is figuring out the direction or concept of the album. You want it to feel organic and represent you while also being creative. I remember an era where albums had themes throughout and weren’t just beats and rhymes thrown together. Nothing better than an album or tape with a dope concept and a cohesive feel the whole way through. I think the best way to get that feel is know what type of style you want and then acquire all the beats to find the type of sound you’re going for. Then begins the writing, recording and editing of the tracks. Throw in a couple drinks and boom! After its all mixed I throw it on the iPod and zone out for a few days to make sure it feels right. At least that’s my process anyway lol. My process takes time though, this is my first project in 3 years!
Deerok: I dig everything you saying. How do you feel about the over saturation of hip hop flooding the internet right now, do you feel it helps or hinders the genre, what do you think this does to the culture?
Revalation: There’s definitely an over saturation but I can’t say much cause I’m part of it lol. I mean, the internet provides a medium for artists to branch out and network, as well as getting your material out to fans all over the world. On the other hand, I’ll be honest there are some people that don’t belong putting out music. Do something else, not everyone is built for this. It’d be like me trying to play pro ball and talk shit to LeBron. That’s just me keepin it 100. Cuz you got cats that never rocked a stage, never traveled, never sold merch, never paid dues and they dropping music every week talking about “I’m Next” and all that. Not saying you shouldn’t chase your dream, but if it’s just a hobby, fall back a bit.
Deerok: My Sentiments exactly, I know, I have to open emails from alot of these cats you described. When you’re not making music and you have your headphones on, who are you checking for, who’s on your playlist?
Revalation: Yo FUCK EVERYBODY!! Nah, j/p. I listen to everything man. I love me some oldies, Motown classics, some rock here and there, spanish music and Hip-Hop wise. I try to give everyone a chance musically. I’m feeling a lot the new generation like J.Cole, Wale, Big Sean, Hopsin, Logic, and a lot of other cats. I love my old shit though, 2pac, Biggie, Wu-Tang, Redman, De La Soul, Mos Def, etc.
Deerok: I can dig it. What’s your favorite aspect of the hip hop game when it’s all said and done?
Revalation: My favorite part of the game is sharing the music I worked hard on with the supporters and seeing the reaction whether it’s online or at a show. It’s a gratifying feeling to know somebody can connect to what you’re saying on a record, relate to it and actually appreciate it most of all.
Deerok: Well Rev, I appreciate you taking the time to be in the spotlight, before we wrap this up, let heads know where they can get at you for bookings, collabs, or just to show love.
Revalation: For bookings, collab, etc. email email@example.com or hit me up on www.facebook.com/RevOfEMS or www.twitter.com/RevOfEMS (I’m rarely on twitter though like hardly ever only to promote lol) and lastly shout out to DeeRok and HipHopHead for the interview, much love and respect! 1
Well there you go, I want to say thank you to the homie for taking the time and We’ll see you on the next one.for now SHUT THE SPOTLIGHT OFF!! Electricity bills crazy! Peace!
Well, we’re back with another emcee spotlight, and this time around we have Philly emcee Zilla Rocca. I heard this dude for the first time on a Curly Castro track and I was like man this dude is nice. After that, I got to hear his Slow Twilight EP and I was a fan ever since. I got to interact with the homie on twitter(@Zillarocca) and he a real humble dude, so when I asked him to be on the spotlight he was down for the Q&A, and now you can read on to find out more about Zilla Rocca…
Deerok: Thanks for being on the Emcee Spotlight homie, before we get started, let heads know where you hail from?
Zilla Rocca: I’m Zilla Rocca, the bourbon general. One-third of Wrecking Crew from South Philly. Shadowboxers mainstay. Three Dollar Pistol Music owner/operator. Emcee/producer/corrupt novelist. All of that. Pleased to meet you.
Deerok: Shout to everybody in the illadelph, now being that you’re from Philly, and the musical history it has in rap and other genres, who or what were your influences in hip hop, that made you pick up the mic, and do the music you make?
Zilla Rocca: I started rhyming in ’98 because of Canibus and Inspectah Deck. That was the era of super lyrical stuff. Lyricist Lounge CD’s. I loved it. Where I lived in South Philly, there was no hip hop element anywhere. People made fun of me for liking rap, so I kinda kept it to myself and was a fan first for years. Then I hit high school and met guys who loved hip hop, so it gave me some confidence to start writing rhymes. The only local guys who really influenced me were Black Thought and Malik B of The Roots. I used to bump “Do You Want More?!?” on my Walkman waiting for the train and just studied their styles. “Proceed 2″ is one of my all-time favorite joints. And the writing and slang on “Illadelph Halflife” I think is still wildly underrated and incredible.
Deerok: That’s wassup!, So, on top of spitting them bars, are you also into production?
Zilla Rocca: Yeah I’ve been making beats since like ’02-’03. I lucked out because I was a student of Noah Goldstein, who is now the full-time engineer for Kanye and GOOD Music, and Starkey, who is one of the biggest IDM/EDM/Dubstep producers in the states. That taught me how to make beats, how to mix, how to engineer. We met at Temple University and just always challenged each other, learned from each other. They put me onto Reason and Logic, which I still use to this day. Now I keep up with Small pro, Has-Lo and Castle with the beats.
I’m about drop a little beat tape called “Blammers Vol. 1″ because people sleep on my production heavily. But that’s cool — I’m not a beatmaker. I produce records — I help shape songs even if it’s someone else’s beat. I arrange beats with bridges, hooks, change-ups. I give feedback to emcee’s while we’re recording, I add filters and drops and such to beats, I mix and master all my projects. At heart, I’m just really into editing and doing things right.
Deerok: I dig that, I’ve peep all aspects of you as an artist and I’ve come to the conclusion that everything you do and put out is top notch. Now you’re apart of a crew called the Shadowboxers. Who are the shadowboxers? How long have y’all been making music together?
Zilla Rocca: The Shadowboxers is a rotating group of creators I break bread with when I get into my edgier album concepts. For our first album “The Slow Twilight” it was just me and producer Blurry Drones out in Seattle. Our new album “No Vacation for Murder” is mostly produced by Blurry Drones, but Has-Lo and Curly Castro were heavily involved during the 2 years it took to make the record. Plus I got cameos from guys I look up to and fit the aesthetic of the album, like Roc Marciano, Geechi Suede of Camp Lo, The Kid Daytona, Open Mike Eagle, and more. I treat it like Queens of the Stone Age or Gorillaz — each album the supporting cast changes and I am the constant.
Deerok: Man, I dig that concept, and I’ve digged the Shadowboxers projects put out thus far. Let us know, who are your go to folks, the ones you turn to when working on a album? also, who haven’t you worked with, that you’d like to get into the studio and make some dope hip hop?
Zilla Rocca: I never set out to make an album. I’m constantly recording stuff, and then I get an idea or overarching concept, and start compiling the songs that fit that idea. Then I work towards making a few new records to bookend the project. I either do everything completely on my own, or I hand it off to Curly Castro and Has-Lo to get their feedback. They arranged the new Shadowboxers album, and me and Has arranged Castro’s album “Fidel”. It’s great to be friends with people who are fans but are honest about your work too. I have a hard time trusting people to come through for me when it’s something I can do myself. I’m hella self-sufficient, but I enjoy having a support system that get me and want to see me shine.
I’d like to work with my heroes: Aesop Rock, Mos Def, Nas, Ghostface, Raekwon. Throw in Tom Waits. Jack White. Dose One. Ka. Kendrick Lamar. Kendra Morris. Julia Haltigan, who I just discovered last week. Hanni El Khatib. I’d make all of these people step into my lane rather than just show up to get buried on my own record.
Deerok: Man I wouldn’t mind hearing a track with you and any of those guys you mentioned, hopefully you’ll make some of those happen in the near future. Tell us, as an independent artist, what would you say about the state of hip hop right now?
Zilla Rocca: Hip hop is great right now. It’s whatever you want it to be. There’s so many choices. With streaming services now outdoing iTunes, people are checking out more new music than ever. I even check people who I don’t enjoy because I have the means to do that legally. If you’re disappointed or still choosing sides with music, it’s more of a reflection of you now because there’s no barriers. Everyone is working with everyone. Right now, I’m doing a song with 2 guys in Philly along with a guy from NC, Minnesota, Ohio, and Michigan. This wasn’t possible 10 years ago.
Deerok: True, I agree with you on that, but there’s thousands of indepent artists and labels, what do you feel has to be done to stand out in such a crowded genre?
Zilla Rocca: I think you need to be everything to a few people. I’ve been 100% independent since 2005 putting out stuff on my own that’s on iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. I’ve changed styles and vibes so many times. Now that I know what I do, I just stick to it and hope that the folks who support me the most dig it. I’ve had some records really show out and nothing carried over to the next one. I’ve had albums do incredibly well overseas that no one in my city knew existed. I’ve been on all the big sites at least once, but there’s no tangible result. So none of it matters beyond the core of folks who have been behind me the whole time. As my teacher in college told me, there’s an audience for everything. You have to connect with them and treat them great.
Deerok: Wise words for those starting out in the the game. Ok now, for heads that are listening to you for the first time, what projects would you want heads to listen to first? What do you feel are some of your really stand out tracks you would want first time listeners to check out at jump?
Zilla Rocca: Start with the 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers LP “The Slow Twilight”. That’s when I discovered and harnessed my current style. It’s my most complete work front to back until the next Shadowboxers album drops. It’s very dark and there’s still nothing like it that’s out 4 years later — indie rock meets noir hop. Then grab my last EP “Party With Villains” that dropped last fall. It’s loosely based around growing up around the South Philadelphia Mafia. Then grab Wrecking Crew’s “Wu-Tang Pulp” album we put out last year. We love Wu-Tang as much as you. It took us 3 years to make, so it’s not some corny mixtape exploitative nonsense. It’s a re-imagining of our favorite cults from the entire Wu canon.
Stand out songs:
1. “Young Blood” with Roc Marciano
2. “Devil’s Pie”
3. “High Noon” with 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers
4. “Black Cherry”
5. “Don’t Make Headlines, Make Money”
Deerok: Y’all need to check those out… Tell us, when you’re not making music, who are you checking for when you throw on the headphones? Who are some of your favorite artists?
Zilla Rocca: I’ve noticed with age that I either like music that is really straightforward and simple, or really abstract and challenging. I love Drake and I love Shabazz Palaces. I love John Lennon and I love Raekwon. Right now, I’m really into the new Queens of the Stone Age album. New Prodigy & Alchemist album is incredible. Action Bronson and Harry Fraud I really like. New Castle EP that Has helped put together. I love all of Serengeti’s various projects — he’s a genius. I literally listen to music about 6 hours a day almost everyday so it’s hard to be definitive at any moment.
Deerok: I feel you on that, I’ve gotten to be the same way myself, and definitely dig Action Bronson. Zilla I Just want to thank you for taking the time to be on the Spotlight, before we let you go, let heads know how they can get at you for bookings, collabs, or just to show love.
Zilla Rocca: If you want to book me or do a song, contact my business partner Fresh at deefresh AT gmail dot com. You can like my musician page on Facebook (facebook.com/zillarocca) or get at me on twitter (@zillarocca). If you see in Philly or at show, the quickest way to my heart is a glass of Maker’s Mark. When it comes to devil’s water, I’m a simple man.
There you have it folks, shout to Zilla Rocca and The Shadowboxers and make sure to check out all his music over at Threedollarpistol Dot Com
It’s been a minute since I do an emcee spotlight due to the fact that it takes up alot of time that I usually don’t have since I do the blog alone except for the great contributions from the crew from time to time. What a way to start them back up then with a interview with one dude who’s had a meteoric rise in my personal “current favorite emcee” list. I first heard Gemz on a project he did a couple years ago as part of “The Opposition”. Once I heard Gemz spit those verses on that project, and was able to see how vivid his bars were, I knew this dude was something special, and much needed in Hip Hop. I got to chop it up with the Brooklyn-Queens emcee and below is the first emcee spotlight in a long minute..Read On….
Spit Gemz I appreciate you taking the time homie, for those unfamiliar with you as an artist, let’em know where you hail from.
Spit Gemz: Brooklyn is my birthplace, and also where I currently reside for the last 15+ years. East New York to be exact. I spent a substantial amount of years in Queens as well though, and I certainly consider it to be home just as much as BK. I have real strong roots in both boroughs, I could never choose one.
That’s what’s up, shout to Brooklyn and Q-Boro. As dope as your bars be, when was the first time you wrote your first rhyme, the first time Spit Gemz picked up the mic and said “I can do this rap music”?
Spit Gemz: I wrote my first bars ever in D.F.Y. (Division for Youth). That’s basically prison for juveniles. I was about 14 i believe. That was the first actual verse i wrote. Before that it was just freestyling with my peoples, i used to freestyle to my mother on the way to school too. My mother was the first person to tell me I was nice. I was born into this culture. my moms, my pops, uncles, cousins…just everybody around me since the beginning was in love with Hip Hop. They were Hip Hop. I’d say it was a natural procession. I didn’t continue to write after that first verse though. I stopped completely for a long while, and in 1998, I caught the fever something terrible and never stopped again.
That’s dope how you’re family was apart of the culture you soon came to embrace. Now you wasn’t always Spit Gemz, at first, you went by 3rah(ERA). What made you change your moniker to Spit Gemz?
Spit Gemz: I went by 3rah up until early 2009. I caught an assault case in a bar in Astoria, Queens and there was a sharp instrument involved. I winded up beating the case, but not the parole violation, and I went to jail. While i was sitting in the “box”(solitary confinement) i was contemplating my life and my music, and plotting to re-invent myself and start over with everything. The name 3rah was very esoteric and obscure in it’s spelling and pronunciation and I wanted to change it to something with a broader perspective. Something that meant more to me, that was more representative of me. I’ve always had an affinity for including knowledge in my music, yet i’ve also always been the wild card. Spit Gemz seemed like the perfect way to symbolize who I am and what it is that I’m trying to convey. The double meaning behind it is a perfect attribute for the kind of creature I am. We are ALL contradictive beings, us humans. It’s how we survive. Same thing that makes you laugh makes you cry.
Not to many emcee’s know how to make the transition to position themselves for success, I think you’ve done that masterfully, and I salute you. Let’s touch on the latest album you dropped recently…FVCK THE RADIO, what is it do you want the fan who’s listening to this album for the first time to get out of it, once the headphones get put down?
Spit Gemz: I want the masses to know that they have choices. You don’t have to be a puppet, you can be yourself. Too many people think that the radio(FM) is the end-all be-all for an MC, that if you’re not on the radio you’re not a “real” rapper. It’s the most backwards shit in the world. Not to say that if you are on the radio, your a fake, or vice-versa. The sad truth is that 90% of what’s on the radio is pure garbage, and that it is by design, not by chance. The radio has become a tool for corporate consumerism. Corporations want you to shut up, party and buy their useless and overpriced products. They don’t want you to be a free thinker, or an independent force, because it goes against their agenda. Music is extremely powerful. Especially music that inspires and provokes thought. The radio does not play that kind of music, my kind of music, so fvck them. We started a movement with this album, a movement towards a higher level of lyricism, ideology, vocabulary, and overall substance and quality of writing. I learned from MC’s when i was a kid, i just want to re-instate that school of thought.
Let me just say it’s a very dope album, you can quote me as saying it’s one of my favorite so far this year. Let heads know what was your thought process putting this album together.
Spit Gemz: I recorded a lot of records for this album, and the overall scope changed a few times, because i wasn’t satisfied. The main focus throughout the process was the lyrics and the naturalism of the collaborations. I also wanted to maintain the rawness of the title, and still showcase why I felt I was righteous in saying so. There are records I removed from the album because they didn’t fit the criteria to me, not because they weren’t dope records, they just weren’t right for this album. As far as the features are concerned I was extremely picky. In all fairness, I’ve got be the one of the hardest critics this side of the hemisphere. If your on this album, then I hold you to a certain level of respect when it comes to lyrics.
Not to many artists make the effort to craft their album carefully, and it seems, you were definitely meticulous in putting this dope album together, indeed. Now you started a label “Broken Home”, Why that name? Who are the folks in your camp heads should look out for?
Spit Gemz: Broken Home has always been my team. Even before rap, when it was just graff. My good friend and mentor Sub-Mariner (Ernesto Hernandez) came up with the name. He was actually rhyming before all of us. The name is a perfect representation of what we were all experiencing in our households. There were actually 8 of us who rhymed originally. I’m just the only one who continued on with it, and righteously, I never changed or abandoned the name. As of right now, Broken Home is an independent force in the industry, and I am extremely proud of that. From music to films, clothing and so on, we’ve been able to make a name for ourselves and solidify our place in Hip Hop, and that brings me joy. The future holds much more in store. We have an alliance of extremely strong spitters. Tek Bully, Eff Yoo, Aye Wun, G.S. Advance & One-Take are all gearing up to drop projects this year, just to name a few.
That’s whats up, salute to the whole Broken Home camp. So FVCK THE RADIO has been making noise for a minute, what’s next for Spit Gemz this year?
Spit Gemz: I’m dropping a project entirely produced by Stu Bangas, who needs no introduction. I’ve been a fan of his work for quite some time now and a couple of years ago I told him I aspired to work with him one day, so I’m definitely excited about the endeavor. Right now I’m still working on the material, just taking my time and making sure not to rush anything. I’m also simultaneously working on my Galaxy Defender project, which will more than likely drop after the Stu joint. Aside from that, I have at least 2 EPs that I would like to do, each with a different MC. I won’t name any names yet. Definitely plan on touring, rocking a bunch of shows and going deeper into the visual side of things as well. I shoot, direct and edit all of my own videos, as well as videos for a bunch of other artists, and it becomes extremely time consuming. That ultimately leads to a draw of energy and focus in other areas, so it’s not exactly my main priority. My music has to come first for now. But without a question, after these projects i plan on getting into my filming mind a lot more. I mean I have two screenplays and a novel that i wrote before i dropped my first mixtape.
Man, I’m look forward to all of that, and I’m sure the fans as well. Let’s touch on the state of Hip Hop, what’s your views on how Hip Hop is doing, and where it’s headed?
Spit Gemz: I think Hip Hop is in an excellent state, because I know what Hip Hop is. What you hear on mainstream radio rotation, is not Hip Hop. It’s more like Techno or Dance music in my opinion. Culture is about carrying on tradition, and as long as there are people to uphold this culture to the honor it is deserving of, it will thrive and continue to flourish. In all honesty, i feel it never really wavered, the radio did. The video outlets and channels did. They sold out, not us, not the true heads. But i will say this, i’m very pleased with the state of NYC Hip Hop. We are certainly rocking right now. For a long time, it felt like a lot of cats were going through an identity crisis. Right now, we’re sounding like NYC again, and on behalf of my squad and everyone else who has contributed, your all welcomed.
Indeed, I agree on every point! Well Gemz I appreciate you taking the time to give us some insight as to who Spit Gemz is as an artist..before we wrap it up, let heads know where they can get at you for collabs, videos, bookings, or just to show love…
For all inquiries, you can contact me personally @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook is Spit Gemz
Youtube is SPITGEMZ
Twitter is SPITGEMZ
Instagram is SPITGEMZ
I just want to thank Spit Gemz for taking the time to chop it up with me for the emcee spotlight. FVCK THE RADIO is available now and you can cop it here. Support the real Peace!
Here’s a pretty cool interview with New Orlean’s producer/emcee Harn Solo. Transcribed over from Definition of Fresh. Check it out.
Born: 80s baby.
What’s On TV: I watch a lot of sports. NBA TV and College Gameday on ESPN are some of my favorites. Really though, more time is spent on music than anything.
What’s On My Ipod: I lost my iPod in London during the “Catch Me If You Can” video shoot! Before that I was jamming a lot of hip-hop from Top Dawg Entertainment – Kenrick Lamar x Schoolboy Q x Ab-Soul. Those guys on the West Coast are pushing their creativity hard. Different style of hip-hop music than anyone out right now.
What I Drive: Last time I owned a car was three years ago in Los Angeles before I moved to New Orleans. I got rid of my wheelz of steel and have been riding my bike, or taking taxi’s to get around. New Orleans is a small metropolitan city you can get around easy – Big Easy.
Favorite Flick: On the flight to Europe I caught Michael Rapaport’s documentary, “Beats, Rhymes & Life : The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest”. Great back story on rise and fall of the Native Tongue hip-hop group. Q-Tip and Phife Dog were best friends growing up, but they tore the group apart due to artistic differences and ego clashes. Check that flick out!
Favorite Artist: Vincent Van Gogh was a creative genius. I actually peeped out some of his work at historical museum in Amsterdam this Summer. His work was so much brighter and colorful than other artists during his time. Such a daring artist not afraid to create his own wave.
Magazines/Books: In this digital age most the magazines I peep are online. With my music career I’m always checking out fellow artists on the blogs. Peace to Mighty Muzik outta New Orleans for holding me down, and also I Still Love H.E.R from Germany for giving me the spotlight on their websites.
When did you fall in “love” with Hip Hop?
Many of my friends growing up had older brothers in high school who listed to hip-hop tapes. They would copy mixes for me including Wu-Tang Clan, Bone Thugs & Harmony, E-40 and Eazy-E. Those were the first rap artists i got introduced to in middle school. I also went to Atlanta in 1996 for Summer Olympic games and heard a lot of Outkast and Goodie Mob records. Fast forward 15 years later and I’m a rapper!
Favorite Emcee: I’ve been jockin Danny Brown outta Detroit for awhile now. Downloaded his mixtape The Hybrid a couple years ago, and I’ve watched his career take off since signing with Fools Gold Records. Now he’s touring around the country with A$ap Rocky. That’s great progress.
Favorite Group: Wu-Tang Clan. I had every single CD they came out with as a group, and all the individual records too – Method Man and The RZA have always been my favorites. It was an incredible experience to open for the Wu-Tang Clan in New Orleans at The Howlin Wolf earlier this year.
Favorite Producer: I gotta give it up to @ProProspek who’s been making music in New Orleans with me for the past couple years. He plays all instruments and is also ill with the sample game. He produced my new record “Journey To The Sky” that will be released January – 2013.
1st rap album you ever purchased? I remember going to Best Buy and purchasing 2pac – “All Eyez On Me’ and The Fugees – “The Score” on the same release date. I use to always look forward to Tuesdays growing up cause that’s when all new music hit the shelves.
When did you spit your 1st bar and do you remember it? Can’t remember my first bar. But my friends on the high school basketball team always urged me to spit rhymes on the bus during road games. Than in college every time I went to a house party my friends encouraged me to freestyle. Its like I was a walking jukebox. i should have charged those fools. Lol
1st Job: First legit job out of college was the Fiesta Bowl ticket office in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve never taken so many phone calls and emails in my life. Such a high demand with holiday bowl games. You’re everybody’s best friend cause they want tickets to the game, block party, parking passes, etc…
Hidden Talent: Pretty much freestylin. I always shock people before my live shows when I’m warming up in the green room. Lyriqs da Lyraciss usually does shows with me and can hang in a good freestyle competition.
Favorite Meal: I eat pizza and cheese burgers all the time. I gotta quit that shit. Luckily, I ride my bike all over New Orleans so I stay in good shape. Too much junk food and alcohol in New Orleans though. This place is like the Vegas of the South with all the bars.
Dream Date: I’d like to go back to Amsterdam with a girlfriend. That city is beautiful with all the water and canals running through it. I also gotta crush on this electronic pop singer named Lights outta Toronto, Canada. She has an indie rock look with the vintage clothes and tattoos. Check her music out!
My Greatest Love: My greatest love is God. I wouldn’t be here without him. He’s my inspiration for creativity and life.
My Bucket List: My agenda for 2012 is to finish strong. I’ve already released two full-length albums this year. “The Grind” x “Shooting Star”. You can expect a couple new music videos from London and Amsterdam before the year’s end!
Favorite Websites: I’m always surfing for new hip-hop music at TheTapeDeck.net – great news stories by @Yoh31. I’m also getting into my friend @Lindsey_Gamble’s website for dope rap music at HITPMusic.com.
Favorite Sports Team: The Saints. Who Dat! We’re going through a ruff year without Coach Sean Payton. But Saints won the Super Bowl the first year I moved here so I gotta stay loyal. I think we’re gaining some momentum after beating San Diego for first win of season.
Motto/Mottos: Reaching Higher. That’s the name of my record company – Reaching Higher Records. I’ve been working hard as an independent musician for a few years now, and the goal is take the music around the world with me.
Any Last Words: Peace to da homie @JRizzle_20019 from DefinitionOfFresh.Blogspot.com for conducting the interview! One Love, Harn SOLO
What’s good fam. We’re back with another spotlight and this time we got a young brother out of Virginia named Phil The Thrill. I’ve posted plenty of his music up on the blog (Hit the search bar to the right), and recently he dropped the real nice project VAliens. I decided to reach out to him and chop it up about his music and what steps he takes to make it. So give this interview of this talented brotha a read and his music a listen, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.
Peace Phil. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for The Hip Hop Head… Before we start the spotlight, let heads know where you call home?
Home for me is Newport News, Virginia. Being a kid of military parents though I have lived everywhere from being born in England to living in Japan, Korea and numerous other places.
That’s wassup, shout to all my DMV Folk down there. Being a young emcee, who or what would you say are you’re influences? What influenced you into the music, into Hip Hop?
Growing up my biggest influences were definitely Tupac and Jay Z. I just remember seeing how raw tupac was with his flow and storytelling and then on the other hand how calm and fluid Jay Z would spit his verses and the more I began to study the craft and study those artist it really influenced me to write.
I can dig it. Let heads know what’s your view of the game right now..how is it for a young rapper?
My view of the game right now is pretty open, though I don’t agree with all of the hip hop music that is out I do definitely support anybody chasing a dream and living it. With that said I can only try to push harder so that I can be in the position to leave a more positive impact on the game because I do feel that the negativity of it all overshadows it most of the time.
Very True. You just dropped your new project VAliens.. give us some insight behind the project, how did the project get it’s title?
Growing up I was a biiiiig Outkast fan so given knowing that of course Atliens was my favorite project from them, but being an artist myself and being in Virginia I thought to myself how about I flip this into my own version and add my own creative sound to that VAlien title to make it stand out the way Outkast did for ATL.
That’s whats good shout to Outkast, definitely legends in the game. Tell us, Who was involved production-wise to make this happen?
Ahh man the thing I love about this music grind is that I have been privileged to link up with up and coming producers so to name a few my guys Abstract Beats and Sir Henry are two guys that always have for sure beats on my projects and help me to stretch my sound.
Ight, I’m going to look more into these producers. For those heads that aren’t familiar with your music, what other projects are out there for them to check out?
For those not familiar I have numerous projects such as VAlien, Barely Awake, Sample Time I & II and Distinguished Reject just to name a few.
Heads need to go check those out…after dropping this latest project, what’s in store for you the rest of 2012, and looking into 2013?
Well I’m actually already wrapping up the recording process of my next project “sleepLESS” which is a Barely Awake II project for me and I”m looking forward to dropping that this fall alongside many visuals and then the next one after that. Because I love music so much I don’t see myself stopping or slowing down anytime soon.
Looking forward to that man, I’ve been enjoying the music you’ve been putting out no doubt. what producers out right now make you say “Man, I would love to drop verses on dude’s production..” ?
Hmm production wise I definitely wouldn’t mind having the opportunity to drop a verse on Noah “40′s” production for sure. Hearing the joints that he always has with drake give me a cool vibe and inspire me.
That’s whats up. What’s your favorite aspect of doing this hip hop thing, what do you enjoy the most out of it.?
I think that I love that there are no rules or clear cut right or wrong way to make hip hop music. I enjoy the fact that I can be myself and if people like it, they cling to it and enjoy it themselves. That alone lets me know that I’m headed into the right direction.
I can dig it. When you’re not working on your music, who you checking for right now in Hip Hop?
Hmmm I must say that right now Kendrick Lamar, Ab-soul, well pretty much all of TDE/Black hippy has my ear. I like the unique style and message that they are bringing back to hip hop escpecially because the West Coast hasn’t had a surge like this in a while.
I dig that list right there shout to TDE. Ight Phil, before we wrap up the spotlight homie, let heads know where they can reach you for collabs, bookings, or just to show love?
I’m always available through my twitter @philthethrill21 or my email email@example.com and I like to converse and holla at anybody that takes the time to speak for sure. I appreciate it all.
Shout to Phil The Thrill for taking the time to be on the spotlight. You can cop his VALiens here. Check it that out. Until the next spotlight, PEACE.
Maaaaaaan, it’s been a long minute since I do an Emcee Spotlight on the blog. So, I was looking for the right Emcee to jump off the series again, and with the release of Pick Ya Pants Up EP, it hit me who to hit up first. Queens emcee Otis Clapp, who’s been running around in the underground making good Hip Hop for a minute now. I got to chop it up with him for this segment, so read below and find out more about this talented brother.
Peace Otis, before we jump off this spotlight, one of the first in a minute, let’s start off by letting heads know where you rest…
Well before all that, I wanna thank you for the opportunity, I feel what you’re doing, and I like that you give artists like myself a platform to be seen, so thank you. My name is Otis Clapp, I’m an alcoholic, and I’m from this little planet called Queens NY…
Haha, that’s whats good homie..No doubt, a pleasure having you on the Hip Hop Head dot Net’s Emcee Spotlight. Now, tell us how you got into writing those bars…Who or What would you say are your influences?
Back in high school, I took an English class, and my teacher wanted us to keep a diary/journal..I felt like diaries are for the bitches, so I decided to just use it as a rhyme book. As far as influences, I make alot of music about my life, I’m inspired by my own experiences, past, present, whatever, so as long as I’m still alive and breathing, I’m gonna have dope shit to write about…
That’s whats good homie, as for me..I failed English three times, so I agree with you about Journals,hahaha. Hi Ms. Slomko. Anyways..Who would you say the type of listener does your music cater too?
Honestly I don’t make music for one type of listener or demographic. I’ve always tried to make music that has an aura or “feel”, I feel like people can listen to Otis Clapp, and by the time they turn my shit off, they’ll feel something. My main objective is to always connect with the audience, there’s nothing worse than listening to an artist (of any genre) and leaving with nothing, or feeling alienated. My goal is to always connect, and give the listener “Me”. To sum up my answer, my music is for anyone who wants to connect to some dope shit…
I can dig it. I always like throwing that question out to see how the emcee replies to it, you said it well. Aight, let’s talk about some projects here, you just recently dropped the Pick Ya Pants Up EP, tell us about that project, How did that title come about? What are some of the standout tracks? And are you for or against pant sagging?
Yo man, theres nothing worse than a mutha fucka wearing some saggy ass jeans with a belt. They look like dickfaces…I always laugh at people like that. I’m kind of over it though, if people wanna look like dummies thats on them. So that’s where the name came from. The project is dope, not because I said so,or because I made it, and I’m being arrogant, it’s dope because I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. I put alot of heart into it, as far as standout tracks, you featured it, you tell me…lol…Nah, but seriously, to me they are all standout tracks. I’m my own engineer, my own executive producer, my own mixing and mastering guy. So studio time is never a problem for me, with that being said, if I dont feel like a track is great when I’m done with it, I scrap it…
Well, I’ll tell you some of my favorite tracks off it, “Lose My Mind” with YC the Cynic and Scienze, and “The Rain” also one of my favorites…that joint goes, but definitely, overall the EP is real nice.
So, speaking of the new EP, for heads unfamiliar with your music, where can they find previous music to get to better know Otis clapp?
Well, my personal website is in the works as we speak, so for the time being you can go to www.otisclapp.bandcamp.com and download my whole catalog… You could find me on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, Youtube..I’m easy to find, google me if all else fails…
Google him B*Tches! Ight man, what’s in the future for Otis after this EP? What can we expect?
Well I have 2 videos coming out for the EP, and my sophomore LP “Stay Off My Lawn” is more or less done, I’m just sitting on it for the moment, until I have videos done for that (which are already in the works). I’m also branching away a bit from JUST hip hop, and I started recording an EP with my brother Mr Vega. This is a different look for me because its EDM (Electronic Dance Music). There’s some dubstep on it, some Moombahton, its sounding great so far..a very different look for me but it’s working…I cant WAIT for ya’ll to here this project man!!!
That’s whats up. Looking forward to hearing the new stuff. Aight, when you not busy making music, performing, or whateva…who you checking for musically?
Who am I checking for? Hmmm.. let’s see YC The Cynic just dropped an amazing EP “Goodmorning Midnight” which I executive produced, mixed, mastered.. its such a dope project.. Kon Boogie is def always on my ipod, as far as industry I love everything Kanye is doing, he’s prob my favorite artist right now. I’m really feeling ASAP Rocky.. and I listen to alot of non hiphop as well.. I love The Black Keys, Radio Head, I’ve been listening to alot of Sazon Booya (google them), Skrillex, shit man, theres all types of shit I’m bumpin on my ipod..I like to stay open minded…
Aight, Aight..I heard that YC joint, that EP goes. Good Shit. Well man, before we wrap up the spotlight let heads know where and how they can get at you for collabs, beats, bookings, or just to show love…
People can reach me on Facegram,instatwitter, Gmail, their girls house…everything is at Otis Clapp…come find me, and we can get #ATB together!!!!
Shout to Otis Clapp for taking a moment to chop it up with The Hip Hop Head Dot Net. You can cop his “Pick Ya Pants UP” EP Below. Until we turn the spotlight on again, PEACE!