You solidified yourself in the underground in 2008. How is ’09 going to be bigger for you?
I don’t know. I’m continuing. I’m just trying to maintain my momentum. We got a couple of joints. Hopefully the videos will hit MTVu and MTV2. I got some big press and I’m finishing up the tape and I’m going to drop that. I’m working on getting a situation for the album and I’m just going to keep it going and putting out good music.
At what point did you start to feel the tide turning for you and more people supporting you?
Honestly, I still don’t even really notice it. People tell me. I hear about it more from the people that I’m around than actually seeing a difference and I don’t know if that’s because I’m just so out of the loop or if I just don’t pay attention. Honestly I just do me. If there is that following and that momentum then that’s a blessing and I am appreciative. I’m just not the most aware. I guess you could say that I’m out of the loop.
You’ve been working with M-Phazes and Illmind, two great producers. How have you been able to get beats from them?
I just built relationships with them. They’re all family. Illmind is such a talented dude. I’ve known him for years. That’s just my boy. We chill and even if I’m not doing music we chill. There’s times when we won’t do music for a period of months and if it works out it works out. There’s the solid foundation because we’re friends. And it’s the same with M-Phazes. We just have a good chemistry and we run with it.
With M-Phazes being out in Australia it must be hard to work together. How is your joint project Phaze One coming?
It’s done. We’re trying to get it picked it up right now. It was mixed by Ariel Borujow, as you know. (laughs) It’s a real good record. It’s really good. M-Phazes is a really talented producer. We have some videos shot. We’re going to throw some stuff out there and see what sticks and we’re going to drop it as soon as we have the right push behind it.
Was anything lost in the songs collaborating via email and not in-person?
Oh, man, I hated that! There’s something about the way he and I interacted. It didn’t translate well. We would be beefing all of the time. He would tell me he didn’t like it and I had to write it again and I would be heated over here. Or he would make a beat and I would record it and remix it. It wasn’t the most efficient way of getting a record done because we weren’t face to face but we still were able to collaborate effectively. There was a lot of criticism but it was definitely constructive and we kept each other sharp. It might have been easier if we were face to face but I think we made the best out of a bad situation.
What’s it been like working with Ariel on your mixes?
Ariel is so talented. He’s so talented. The first time I was kind of salty about spending money on mixes, especially Ariel money on mixes, but he’s an incredible engineer and it’s worth every penny and I’ll probably be in debt to him my entire life paying him off. He definitely improved my sound and it’s crazy. And he’s good for so many other reasons too. He has good artists coming in and out of his studio. I met DJ Static through him and I recorded with so many other people. I linked up with some cats in Dujeous through him. It’s definitely a good studio to be involved with.
You come from a musical background where you’ve always been into a variety of music. How has that affected what you do as an artist?
You just have to be diverse. Sometimes I don’t want to hear people just spit 16 bars. I want to go and listen to some Motown or some Led Zeppelin or whatever. Music is like a reflection of the way you feel and the music that you make and the music that you listen to, it kind of chronicles that, I guess you could say. If I’m in a certain mood I’ll make something based on that. I might turn on some old jazz like Coltrane when I want to do some different stuff and when I want to go in on some rapping shit I’ll just put on some Kool G. Rap and Big Pun. It just depends. You can see it in the product when it comes out.
How is your debut album Official Soul coming?
I’m working on it. I’m just doing songs. I don’t like putting myself in a regimen like I have to release my debut album on this day. I kind of just make the music and I let the music dictate what’s ready for what and what’s what so when my record drops it will be exactly when it’s supposed to be for the time it’s released and it won’t be forced.
How do you decide what you release and what you don’t?
Oh, we’re trying to play chess, for sure. We have a vision. I’m trying to look at everything with the bigger picture in mind. When it comes down to what I’m going to throw out there, these aren’t just the songs that we would leak or just verses. I’m the worst critic. It has to meet all of my standards and my standards are high for myself and for other people. I don’t like what’s across the board, not just hip-hop in general. I have to make sure that what I do is quality that I would expect from somebody else. I don’t want to sell anybody short, especially myself.
You’re a Rochester native but living in New York City now. Where do you make your best music?
It’s different, man. Rochester is a whole different place. Rochester is gritty. When you’re in Rochester, I found…Recently I did a show back home and I came with a set that’s my New York spitting set, which is some fly shit and some spitting shit. It’s a combination. When I go back home to the Roc, you have to kind of tailor it to the crowd where it’s gritty and you have to go in on the shit. It’s different. It’s two different types of situations, I guess. It’s not better or worse. It’s just different.
Are you happy with how things have been moving for you recently?
Yeah. I’m happy. There’s always room for improvement but I’m going to make the changes that we need to make. I’m not satisfied but I’m happy.
How can you step your game up?
I definitely need to develop more of a print presence. We kind of focused primarily in the last couple of months of building a viral presence and that’s been good. We’re working on now making this internet visibility translate. I don’t consider myself an internet rapper or anything like that but I’m also aware of the fact that I’ve used the internet to my advantage. I just want to see how I can make this viral stuff turn into 2 or 300 people at a show. And that’s difficult. It’s difficult to get people out now. I’m trying to turn these looks into numbers.
Do you think you can ever be overexposed on the internet?
Of course. I read an article on the best blog rappers of 2008, which is cool, but I didn’t even get on the blogs until August. I moved to New York and I’ve been to Venezuela and other places and I’ve been doing shows in the City for two years now. It’s not like I’m fresh on the scene. My people know who I am who don’t have the internet, I hope. I don’t know. It’s not what I want to be heralded as but it’s also not surprising that people would act like it is. Whatever. It is what it is. Cool. I’ll take it.
What’s the next move for Emilio Rojas?
Nothing. I’m trying to finish up this mixtape right now and throw it out there. I think I’m going to Canada next week. Hopefully I’m going to get back overseas in a month or two. We’ll get the M-Phazes project released. We’re shooting videos and all of that. Whatever happens, happens. Hopefully it will stick. I really believe in my music. My music is dope. People are starting to take notice and I’m grateful for that.