We’ve just been working hard. We’ve been grinding, pretty much, just like every other starving artist out there putting in work. We’re just out there promoting ourselves and trying to stay relevant.
How did the Spotraiders come together?
We all went to high school together. Our high school mascot was the Raiders and we were all basketball players. When we graduated from high school, that’s when we started doing music. That was life after basketball. That was around ’96, ’97 and ’98. Then my man Madison from the group came up with the name Spotraiders. Since we all went to the same high school, we wanted to keep the Raiders name and besides that, we felt like we “raided the spot” and took it over wherever we went. It was a natural progression to be the Spotraiders.
What was it like growing up in Newport News?
It has its nickname of “Bad News,” but it’s just like any other city. You have your rough parts and you have your suburban parts. I think Newport News has a distinctive sound. You have surrounding cities like Hampton and Virginia Beach and I think that out of all those cities that are close together, Newport News has its own sound. You can tell from the person’s style and dress if they’re from Newport News. It’s just like any other area. We had a lot of spotlight on us because of people from here like Allen Iverson and Michael Vick. We actually went to the same high school as Michael Vick. He was a year behind us. He played basketball but he didn’t play much.
Are Virginia hip-hop fans supportive of their own artists?
As an artist, you want to lock down your home area. You want to lock down your state as a whole. But when you get deeper into it, it gets crazy. I don’t want to say that we don’t support our local artists, but you don’t really see the support until someone blows up like the Clipse. They rep Virginia hard and I appreciate that, but people probably wouldn’t have showed them love if they weren’t on TV yet or didn’t do shows in New York. I don’t think Quan would have gotten the love he’s gotten and is getting if he was just grinding straight out of Virginia. He popped up in Nas’ video.
For starving artists such as ourselves, it’s tough because everyone wants to be on top right now and everybody raps. It’s kind of like crabs in a bucket. You just have to do what you have to do and work that much harder. I think if you can make it out of Virginia without blowing up out of state first, then you should appreciate it that much more. We definitely want to lock down Newport News and Virginia as a whole. But if we take off out of state first, then we’re definitely coming back home.
You had a deal on the table in 2002 with Sony and you didn’t take it. Do you have any regrets over not taking it?
We actually went up to Sony in the summer of 2002. We were running our independent label and we just walked up in Sony and paid for studio time. We were the only unsigned artists to ever record in Sony at the time. They kind of offered us a deal. It wasn’t a lot of money for the four of us. We didn’t want to get raped on the first deal so we turned it down. Looking back, I kind of regret it because at least we would have gotten our foot in the door, but at the same time, we didn’t want to get jerked around on our first deal. It was a good experience and we met a lot of people. We were in the studio when LL recorded “Luv U Better.” We saw Foxy, Pharrell and Swizz. A lot of people came through in our session and gave us their seal of approval. It was a good experience though. Hopefully we’ll be back real soon.
You just released your latest mixtape By Any Means Necessary Volume 2. How’s that doing for you?
We got it out in the streets around Virginia. It’s up for free download on my MySpace page as well if people want to hear it. It’s our third mixtape. We’re just pushing it, pretty much hand-to-hand. We sold some on the MySpace page too, but since music is so disposable right now, we decided to put a download link on the MySpace page.
You got Skillz and Quan on your “VA (Remix)”. What did that mean to you?
That was big for us. We initially did “VA,” the original, which was produced by M-Millz. He’s probably the hottest producer coming up in this area. People have to hear him. Anyway, we got the song on the radio and we were getting some buzz off it. It’s an anthem. Since people were picking it up, we had no plans for a remix at first. As it started picking up more momentum on the radio and got a bigger buzz, we just reached out to Quan and Skillz. Skillz is a good dude. We also reached out to Big Sty. They did their thing on it. It wasn’t a big deal to them to do it. We didn’t have to go through no politics. We tried to get the Clipse on it but they couldn’t do it in time and we had to keep up with our schedule.
Are you working on a Spotraiders album?
We’re just recording right now. We don’t have a definite due date. We just want to have a lot of tracks available for when we make an album. We want to get our buzz up. You don’t want to drop an album and have nobody know about you. We’re looking to drop a single on the radio and have people know about us. We have a nice buzz in Virginia, but you can only sell so many records on your own. You want to go out of state and have a name for yourself out there too. We’re going to drop mixtapes until we feel we have enough of a buzz to drop an album. You don’t just want to drop an album.
How do you want your debut album to come out?
There are four of us in the group, so you have a lot of different personalities. I just want it to be relevant with all different types of production. When you have four different guys with four different styles, it’s going to sound different. I just want it to be accepted by the streets. At the same time, you want the younger generation to like it too. You don’t want to get overcomplicated with the lyrics but you want to be known as a lyricist too. It’s about having balance.
What kind of deal are you looking for today for the Spotraiders?
We’re just looking for an opportunity. Whoever comes at us with the best situation and the best offer, of course we’re going to take it. We have our DreamWorld Entertainment management and right now, we’re just doing everything ourselves and we’re not looking for a label or sticking our neck out for one. We’re putting in work to show that we’ve been grinding. It’s not a matter of what the label can do. We just want a label to give us a platform for us to be heard nationwide. If it comes to the point where we do get signed, which is the goal of course, it’s about whoever has the best offer. We’ll sit down with them and go from there.
Do any of you have solo plans?
We do the group thing. All of us are capable of being solo artists. We’ve all recorded solo tracks. I’m actually in the process of recording a solo mixtape myself. I believe Sincere is coming after me and then there’s Von G and Madison coming after. We’re kind of like the Lox in that aspect. We have solo material but at the same time, we’re going to come back collectively as the Spotraiders. Once we build that name up, then we can feed off that.
What’s the next move for the Spotraiders?
Just to keep grinding. We just have to keep promoting ourselves. I think grinding is 80% of it. You can have garbage songs and trash songs and a lot of people have and you can get play and you’re always hearing about it. You see stickers and flyers everywhere. And you might be the nicest MC on the planet, but nobody will ever know because you’re in the house all the time. We just have to let the name and let the music get out.
What’s next for us is just to keep on putting out quality material. Hopefully this summer we’ll have a strong enough buzz and we’ll be getting looks from major labels. If not, then we’ll just keep grinding and doing what we’re doing for another ten years.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Look out for the Spotraiders. Remember the name. You also have my man Quan who’s about to drop another mixtape called The Most Anticipated. There’s Zoe coming. He’s about to drop his mixtape. He’s down with Kingz Nation as well. Shout out to Kingz Nation. His mixtape is called Southern Hospitality and that’s hosted by P-Cutta and Quan. Then there’s Jusrah. He’s on Kingz Nation as well. I also want to send a shout out to the rest of my partners in crime, the rest of the Spotraiders. That’s Sincere, Madison and Von G. And our manager is Cory Barnes. Thanks for the support and VA is about to do it. The Clipse and Quan helped put us on the map a little bit and Skillz has always been holding us down. It’s time for a new batch of MCs and I think that’s the Spotraiders.
Don’t forget to download the Spotraiders’ By Any Means Necessary Volume 2 at http://myspace.com/spotraiders