[Let’s start from the beginning, where did you grow up?] I was born in Florida but was adopted at the age of 2 and moved right outside of Atlanta. When I was adopted, it was into a bad home where the “parents” brought me in so that they could receive checks from the government to pay their rent, I was their retirement plan. Fast forward through a lot of bullshit and I was able to get away and I was 13, living on the streets with no family, got a job and survived. Eventually got a high school diploma.
[What city?] Smyrna, Georgia
[I heard of Smyrna, how was life growing up in Smyrna?] It was strange, man. There were a lot of trailer parks, industrial areas, stuff like that. Where I lived in particular had a few gangs. It was not extremely welcoming.
[Seems like there isn’t much going on out there] Yeah, I knew at an early age that I had to get out.
[Do you think your experience in Smyrna effected how you create your art? If so in what way?] Absolutely, it effected a lot of how I act and think, period. You have to develop a certain mentality in order to elevate your soul (and ultimately your reality) beyond the quicksand that is those kind of places. Music was my refuge. Most of the intelligent and creative ideas and perspectives that I was presented with were from lyricists. On the flip-side, though, being in the middle of a city where people were held down, either by themselves or their surroundings, gave me a very clear understanding of what people are capable of doing/being. I became street smart quickly and solid on my own two feet.
[I think our hometowns have a larger effect on us than we think. So what first got you into music?] Riding on the school bus in Elementary, around 4th-5th grade, I started really paying attention to and enjoying the R&B radio station that was playing during the rides. The music coming out of the bus speakers wasthe most pleasant thing I had ever heard at that point. I just got engrossed in it, from start to finish I would find myself lost in the music and daydreaming with the melodies and the content of the lyrics- so I became emotionally attached to music then. From that day until now, I haven’t stopped listening religiously. So, 4th grade, hmm….so 10 years old, I guess. I began writing poetry/songs with verses and choruses in 6th grade. I didn’t begin taking it to full-length songwriting until I was 18, but the passion to record music was always with me.
[How did you record your first song?] At a studio outside of Atlanta, at the studio of Mr. Pia Classics. We worked together and he knew I was doing my thing so he brought me in and helped me to bring to life my first official song, "If Pigs Could Fly", on the spot.
[Lol. Who were some of the artists that influenced you before you got into the industry?]
Rage Against the Machine, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, T.I., Sublime, Erykah Badu, Jimi Hendrix, Mos Def, Slightly Stoopid, The Fugees and many others were my main musical influences.
[How would you describe the music that you typically create? What genre (even if you make up a name) would you categorize it?] It’s pretty eclectic. I’ve MC’d over dubstep DJ’s in the past, live freestyles over ATL trap beats, featured with many reggae bands live, and work with producers who have different styles. It’s rap, at the core, just different degrees of it. It’s street, soulful, conscious-esque, vibey and creative tracks. Sometimes my producers throw jazz into the instrumentals, and a touch of lo-fi.. it’s just music at this point. Trying to keep it fresh and true to ourselves.
[Your sound is something that I have never heard before actually. Quite refreshing and unique.] Mission accomplished, then.
[So what inspires you to create your type of art?] So many things, man. The many talented artists I’ve met along the way that still push to express themselves, the drive to push myself to continuously grow to see how far I can make it. So, from being the kid skateboarding around with headphones in…to doing things that I couldn’t even imagine at the time. Now I’m inspired to push it even farther because for so long all I saw was limitation, roadblocks, and dream-killers. I’ve always had this poetic expression inside of me that I felt, fueled by passion and the quest for wisdom. That comes out in my music.
[I definitely hear something in your music that’s pushing you. Your story will inspire so many people.]
[What artists would you like to collaborate with?] Man...without some wild top tier requests, more reasonable collaborations would be: J.Lately (@jlately), Obvi (@whatupobvi), Jack Harlow (@jackharlow), Jon Swaii (@jonswaii) , Lily Fangz (@lilyfangz), RDGLDGRN (@rdgldgrn), Atmosphere (@atmosphere), Aesop Rock (@aesoprockwins), and Grieves (@grieves), ….Oh, and Dizzy Wright (@dizzyhippy).
[I see y’all all have kind of a similar vibe.]
[Not too many people know about Black Thought. You just put me on something new. I’m liking this Bas] Black Thought is a legend
[Where are your favorites places to perform?] Any place where people are enjoying themselves, but man…any place with some views. Performing on this ship in San Diego was epic, flowing from one resort to the next with the bay out the window. I just played this show a few months ago in China, it was a rooftop party with the full moon shining right above me, that was inspiring. I just looked up and it gave me a lot of energy to go harder. This month I’ve been performing at a pool party on the beach in Thailand, that’s been a sight to see. But there’s few things more fulfilling than a venue with four walls and a ceiling where people are there for the hip-hop and it’s a throw down.
[Are you independent or signed to a major?] I’m independent but I’m open to being a part of a label. It’s a coin flip, man. The offers labels are handing out now are very limited and don’t seem to really benefit the artist as much as putting them in a dependent position financially- it’s tricky. The funding it takes to pay producers for exclusives, shoot music videos, post ads on facebook and instagram alone is a lot for a musician who also has to pay rent, etc. That’s without mentioning tours so that’s where majors can come in and help…I think signing to a major is a good push, but finish the contract and take that momentum into building your own platform afterwards. You have to think in a business mindset.
[That’s true. I think the revenue is lop-sided. There’s no way these large corporations should be making more money that the people who actually make the art. But that’s just my 2 cents.]
[What goals do you want to accomplish before your career is over? (If it ever is over lol)] In the next three years, my goal is a song on the billboard top 40 with a national tour. I also want for my lyrics to connect to a larger fanbase where the things I talk about starts a conscious discussion amongst 20 and 30 year olds and inspire them to dive into new things.
[Modest list. It shows that you really love what you do and it’s not all about material.]
[What do you do besides music on your free time? Why do you enjoy it?]
I read daily and I love to talk and laugh with people. I like having deep conversations that give me insight and perspectives I wouldn’t always reach on my own. I love playing soccer, basketball and kayaking. I watch stand-up comedy and intriguing movies. Stuff like that, haha. I always find time to vibe to some music. These are just simple things that bring me inspiration and contentment. [What’s the best advice you’ve been given?] Forgive, and Keep Going.
[What advice would you give to an upcoming artist?] Find your voice, and cultivate it. It might seem difficult at first, but drown out all the noise. The best thing they can do for themselves is to be original, and master that. It’ll provide you with so much more in the long run. You and your music can grow, and it’ll all be true to yourself. If you copy, not only will you be insecure deep down, but it’s temporary. Having a relationship with your own style can set you up for endless material. Build a bridge between what you have to give to people and how they receive. You always have to consider the audience, but give them something fresh.
[What’s next for you?] I have a laptop with over 100 beats that I have rights to, so.. boosting my catalog. I have my own recording setup for the first time in my life and I worked hard to get it. So, I have 10 songs that just need mixing to release, and I can’t wait for people to hear, but @mrpiaclassics @arithmetikmusiq and @elspacecadet have laced me up with some magic that will bring the vibes when it comes to life. I also have some amazing merch coming out, it’s a dope t-shirt line with some dope art that I’ve commissioned and put together. I plan to return to the states in early 2020 and keep spreading the message.