I can't complain.
I'm doing very well. The people in Columbia (South Carolina) are responding
very well to the album. We have some attention coming here and I couldn't
ask for anything else. I'm feeling good.
way people wouldn't expect Little Brother to be from North Carolina, I
don't think people would expect you to be from South Carolina. Are people
surprised when they learn where you're from?
why the song "South Coca" is so important to me. There are so
many people here ready to run somewhere else and Atlanta is usually the
place that they go. But there is a need for exposure here. I absolutely
love Atlanta but they have an established hip-hop community and if people
keep claiming that they're from somewhere they're not, we're never going
to get anywhere. Ten or more years ago, Atlanta wasn't as popular as it
is now but you had Outkast and Goodie Mob claiming Atlanta, proud of where
they were from. We need to do that in South Carolina. That was one of
the biggest things I wanted to focus on. People told me after the success
of Little Brother that I should move to North Carolina, but why? There's
plenty of attention that needs to be brought here.
very surprised I'm from here. I work in a record store and when I tell
people where I am after they hear the album, they don't believe me. It
feels good when people know there's talent here. We have so much potential
in Columbia, but that potential doesn't mean anything if we don't make
progress. We can't keep running away. I don't think people understand
that around here, with us being a smaller city. What people don't understand
that if you leave to a bigger city there's going to be even more people
trying to do what you're doing. I'd rather stay here and plant my flag.
your debut album Garveyism doing?
really well. One of the things I wanted to focus on was selling them in
South Carolina. I'm working on a distribution situation and that's coming
along. People were interested after they heard "South Coca"
and my joints with Nicolay. One of the prime publications around here,
the Free Times, called it the best hip-hop album to come from South Carolina.
That felt really good. There hasn't been a day that's gone by that somebody
hasn't called me to ask about the album. I don't have a distribution or
a deal yet, so my theory is to show the labels what I can do myself. It's
selling very well and the response is fantastic with it. I don't want
to do too much at one time. I'm really focusing on South Carolina sales,
especially Columbia, where I'm at, and I'm also focusing on internet sales.
I think a lot of people stretch themselves too thin and I have to be humble
about it. I have to focus here and lock it down, then I can gravitate
towards other areas. They're selling very well at Sounds Familiar, a record
store in Columbia. Beyonce is the No. 1 selling CD and I'm No. 2 in front
of Young Dro and Outkast. It feels good to see that.
you feel about the way Garveyism came out?
I feel real
good about it. At first I wanted to put out an album with production I
was doing with Nicolay. I feel honored to have worked with him. I wanted
to do a full record with him but it couldn't happen. He was really patient
and supportive in working with me and I just assumed that all I needed
was to have his production and that I could send it to labels and it would
be a wrap. It's not that simple. It comes down to the fact that you have
to do a lot of the things yourself and Nicolay has such a crazy, hectic
schedule that he couldn't work with me as much as I wished. He has a lot
of things he has to deal with and it makes sense. I was pretty much sitting
on these songs.
on the philosophy of Marcus Garvey. One of the things he was really focused
on was black leadership and black ownership. That's very important. We
have to take more responsibility for what we do. A lot of kids go to college,
get their bachelor's or masters or doctorate and say, Who's going to hire
me? Marcus Garvey would say you have to do things on your own.
I really did everything on this album. I really don't have any co-signs
or high profile guest appearances on here. I'm proud of that. I did that
on purpose. I wanted to sell the record. I didn't want anybody else to
sell the record. I know people will tell me what kind of record they want
to hear from me, but they all have their own agendas. You have to just
say, Fuck it. What point do I want to get across. One of the biggest things
I love about this record is the young kids ask about this record and I
tell them about Marcus Garvey and they read more. It sparks that lightbulb.
I'm trying to empower the community. When I spoke to these people who
were interested in managing me, they asked me what was my agenda. I told
them that through my art and my music, I want to help bring black folks
jobs here in South Carolina. I'm also a photographer and journalist. My
focus is on helping these kids out. I know that may sound corny, but there
is so much power in this music. If I build a name and do concerts or attach
my celebrity to events, it can bring money to the community. I've done
a lot of programs with kids and that's where my heart is at. I know I'm
talking a lot but I've done a lot of interviews with rappers and I know
they don't talk enough.
rappers give good interviews?
Man! I wrote
for this magazine called Lo-Fi based out of Miami. I took pictures and
interviewed people like KRS-One, Common and Sean Paul. There was a particular
Southern rapper and throughout the review I got one-word responses. I
said, "3-6 Mafia just won the Oscar. How does that make you feel
being a Southern artist?" He says, "I feel good." I was
trying to ask questions and help this dude elaborate but it wasn't happening.
I couldn't understand it. There's a lot of artists out here that really
don't understand the other side of this. There's important things like
being able to communicate with the press, how you carry yourself, et cetera.
You have to be responsible. That's why I get real frustrated when I hear
rappers get locked up on some dumb shit. What do you have to be mad about?
You're making records and you're making money! Why the hell are you getting
arrested in the strip club? You don't have to do that. Their bank accounts
may advance but you have to advance your thoughts. You're a different
person. You can't do the same things you used to do when you worked at
Wendy's. Hip-hop has to be more responsible. One of the biggest problems
I see in hip-hop is the people who care the most about advancing the culture
aren't the ones who are running it. We have to get the power back in those
people's hands. The people running it now couldn't care less about the
kids in the ghettos. It's a business and we have to be responsible with
what we're doing. With great power comes great responsibility. If you
can have a crowd of 20,000 people with their hands in the air and a musician
say, "I don't like this person in the front row. Stomp the shit out
of him." They'd do it! Hip-hop has to take some type of responsibility.
on a lot of topics on Garveyism. What's the most important one to you?
One of the
biggest things I wanted to focus on was that my parents are very important
to me. I make reference to them plenty of times. There are plenty of things
I go through that my parents don't understand. I got bit by the hip-hop
bug in high school. I've been writing for as long as I can remember. This
is what I wanted to do. I always wanted to do hip-hop. My father, in particular,
which I understand a lot more now, was against it. Anything non-traditional,
our parents, especially older folks in the black community will not understand
it. Me saying I wanted to make a career out of the arts was non-traditional.
It made absolutely no sense to my father. He expected me to go to law
school or to become a doctor. When I got the album back from the factory,
I took it to him and I think he understands a lot more now. I lost a woman
I probably would have married because of this dream. We make our decisions.
It's all about what you're willing to sacrifice. I could have gone the
easy route. If I would have done something else, like sell coke, the success
would have been in vein. It wasn't for me. I want to make sure that I
can look at myself and know that I did it the right way. I want to make
my folks proud with this. I know that might sound cliché, but I
want my father to respect it.
I also have
a band called Kindablu. Our very first gig was being a small opener up
for Anger Management (50 Cent, Eminem and Lil' Jon) in Atlanta. Unsigned
groups usually don't get that opportunity. My pops gets excited and starts
reading up on 50 Cent and showing people my articles in the newspaper.
He thought that after that show that instantly I was getting a record
deal. He didn't understand that this is a long process, a long nasty grind.
of the big things I talk about on the album is being responsible with
what we're doing. Whether it's music or raising your family we have to
be responsible. One of the biggest problems with the younger generation
is that everything is so present tense. The concept of future doesn't
even enter our minds. You have to be responsible for whatever you do.
I use to have this whole save the world mentality but you have to take
care of your shit. If everybody takes care of their children, that alone
would do so much.
I talk about
love and finding the right person. Everything I talk about regular people
shit. I think that's the greatest thing about the album. I don't think
I'm the dopest MC. There's mad MC's who could eat me on the mic. I'm not
going to battle Pharoahe Monch. My honesty is what makes me feel that
I have a place in the industry. A lot of people can't relate to the artists
anymore. A lot of artists talk about how much money they got. That's nice,
but what if they have a bunch of broke listeners? You have to relate to
the people. That's how you get them on your side. That's why Malcolm is
held in higher regard to younger black children compared to Martin is
because we associate Malcolm with being more in tune with the younger
I have this
theory about hip-hop music that you have one side talking about the bling
and the killing shit, and then you have the other side that's talking
about how they're not doing the bling and the killing shit. You have two
sides not saying anything. We have to stop complaining. I address this
on a song I'm working with stic.man. I basically say, "I'm not going
to bash hood or crunk stuff. I respect you. Just take care of yourself
and your babies with them records." We have to get this idea out
of our heads that it's us vs. them mentality. The so-called conscious
against the so-called trappers. Nothing gets accomplished when we all
complain. One of the things I try to provide on Garveyism is a lot of
solutions. Whether you're a trapper or a rapper, we all want the same
things. We all want to take care of our kids and all that. Why are we
trying to make ourselves so different? That's what I'm trying to bring
with the album.
respond to honesty before skills. Skills can always be worked on. I'm
not saying I'm wack because I think I'm far from it. Honesty is ultimately
what I want to bring with this album. People never speak of 'Pac as being
the most lyrical emcee but he's loved and respected because of his honesty.
to your full-length album with Nicolay?
We had a
demo done. Nic sent some beats and I wanted to see what I could do with
them and see if an indie would pick it up. I mailed some CD's off but
if you don't have people waiting for the package, it'll get put in a box
and just sit there. And then it leaked on the internet. I'm really irritated
because I'm not really happy with those songs. Nic's production was excellent
but I'm not happy with what I did with them. It was never meant to be
a final product. It was more of a work in progress to see if someone would
take the bait and pick the album up.
a producer of that caliber, I needed to come correct. It never came into
being because a lot of those songs, I saw the flaws in myself. And then
Nic was just busy dude. He still is. Nic had a deal and he had a lot of
work that he needed to do. I'm doing a lot of stuff on my own, so I wasn't
paying him as fast or as much as some people in the industry could have.
I don't have a clique and I don't have a crew. I'm here struggling, working
on this job trying to make sure I get Nic the proper dough for it. But
you have people in the industry who want to give him the money right away
for the same beats. They got them. That's business. I'm not mad at that.
A few joints
were saved. Songs like "Cool Out" made the cut along with a
few more. I have nothing but love for Nic for taking the time out. He
didn't have to do it. I just wasn't ready and I didn't realize what I
needed to do. And I realized that one of the biggest things is not the
quality of the music but the people that you know. I didn't have any help
and I didn't know who to hit up and who to call. He had to go on tour
and he couldn't worry about me. He needed to do what he needed to do.
I have nothing but love for him. I talked to him the other day and I sent
him the album. I hope he's feeling it. I respect what he's doing with
the music and I think he could take the R&B world and run with it.
That, in a nutshell, is basically what happened. Regardless of how dope
your album is, you have to grind. The most humbling thing was doing the
Anger Management show and the very next day I had to go to work in a call
center. That's some humbling shit. Stuff like that just needs to happen.
There are other artists who can probably tell some stories like that.
A lot of the stuff Nicolay and I did will never come out.
your goals for Garveyism right now?
kind of fluctuate depending on the potential of the records. I feel like
my art should be art and business should be business. You have to focus
on what you do best, and it was difficult because I had to wear so many
hats. I want Garveyism to get picked up. There are a few people who are
possibly interested in picking it up. It's not like back in the day where
they sign artists based on potential. Nowadays you have to show them what
you can do. You have to show them that you sold 10,000 in a region and
prove that you have an existing fan base. I want to continue to focus
on developing press and push the record. We'll see who comes with the
best deal. I want to have a label support the record and be able to pay
these producers real paper for what they did and not just some shit I
have in my pocket.
One of the
producers I work with is Midi Marc. When 9th Wonder came down here, he
shouted him out on the radio and it did wonders for him. Clokwork did
half of the album and will be apart of everything that I touch He's the
producer that knows me best. He's doing stuff for Brick Records and also
Jah Freedom who is a producer doing stuff for some Boot Camp members.
But however it goes down, I want to do music full-time. I want to have
my own crib off music and help my folks out. That's what I want to do.
I want to be able to do hip-hop and be able to go and speak to the communities.
That's where my love comes from.
I want to
be a motivational speaker. I did something called The Black Store Tour
where the concept was, instead of performing at clubs and venues, because
in Columbia they don't have respect for hip-hop because they don't believe
that people would come out or because they think they can't make money
or they think people are going to end up fighting. We did free shows at
black-owned businesses and made it a family event. The people loved it.
I want to do stuff like that on a larger level. KRS-One loved the idea
when I spoke with him along with people like Nikki Giovanni. But I have
to be humble and know that I don't have any power now because I'm an unsigned
artist. It's unfortunate but eventually I feel that with success with
this record I will be able to do things like that. That's where the business
side has to come in. The main thing I want to do with Garveyism is be
able to do Hip Hop full-time. I want to be able to go on the road and
do shows. I tell people you could pray to God all day and ask for something
that you want. You can plead that you will make certain sacrifices, the
whole nine. Eventually God will call your bluff and say, if you really
want this, you will have to be able to handle the hardships that come
with it. It's not an easy road doing this and it's not for the faint of
heart. I'm trying to prove to the Most High that what's coming in front
of me, I won't take it for granted because He knows how to humble you.
your next project?
One of the
things a lot of artists do, and I think it really hurts them, is they
get impatient and put out a bunch of mixtapes. Hip-hop is so obsessed
with mixtapes right now. Mixtapes get stuff out in the streets, but I
really think that if artists have an album they need to focus on pushing
their albums. Jay-Z's numbers are crazy. People come in and buy his catalog.
He really didn't flood mixtapes. His strategy was, if you want something
I've recorded, then you have to buy the album. So I'm going to push Garveyism
until I can't push it anymore. There's another MC from here, his name
is Danny!. He's doing a lot of stuff that's ridiculous. He has an album
out called Charm. A lot of sites absolutely loved the record. He's from
here as well and I want to do some stuff with him. That's the next project
that's on the plate right now. I also want to help put other people on.
There's another dude named Ntelligence and he's absolutely ridiculous.
I want to help him but I have to take it one step at a time. I need to
give Garveyism the dedication that it needs. I'm very proud of the fact
that there are no affiliations on the album. I don't have any guest appearances
because I don't know anyone. This album is me. So many artists put albums
out and you hear everybody except them. This record is meant for people
to know who I am. That's all I can ask for.
you want to say to everybody?
my website. You can order it from my CDBaby page and we're building on
online distributors as we speak. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you dig
it. Check out the records and let me know what you think about it. Take
control over your lives and hopefully this can help you do that. That's
Garveyism. Don't wait for somebody else to do something for you. Be independent
and do what you do. Peace and naps