Your new album Daily Conversation has been out for about a week. Are you happy with how it’s been doing?
Oh, man, the response from the internet has been phenomenal. It’s definitely doing better than I expected it to. It’s definitely doing really well as far as what the fans think. I’m definitely pleased about that.
Is Daily Conversation helping fans realize that those two songs you recorded with DJ Premier last year were more than a flash in the pan?
Yeah. I’m glad that I got the chance to showcase what I could do with DJ Premier and Skyzoo and I’m definitely grateful for the records, but you can get pigeonholed with people wanting to always hear you with Sky or Premier. I’m glad I got to expand my wings a little bit.
And it’s always good for the fans to want certain things and to try to make certain things happen. As fans, we always have collaborations that we want to see happen, but I want the fans to see me standing on my own two and that I rock with producers like Marco Polo and Khrysis. I want them to understand that I’m going to work with Preem again but it’s not going to be only with Preem. If you dig what I’m doing, you’re going to dig it regardless.
What inspired you to name the project Daily Conversation?
Just the topics that I touched on on the record, I felt that it was daily conversations in my life and not only me but people across the board, whether it’s about politics or about family issues or health or money or grinding. Whatever the topic, I think that these are the topics that go across the board and people can relate to them from all walks of life.
Looking at how many people use text messaging and 2-ways today, is the art of having a conversation changing or devolving into a very impersonal act?
It’s definitely less personal as far as the communication devices that people have. It’s just like all technology, man – it’s a double-edged sword. It allows you to communicate without having to talk. You can multi-task. But at the same time, people have close friends that they only communicate with via email or text message. I was talking to one of my friends the other day and she has one of her best friends who she’s never met. They’ve been communicating via email for the last six years.
As an artist, how much easier is your life because of your Sidekick?
I’m a personal guy. I like to build relationships as opposed to just doing business with people. If you’re a cool person and we connect on a couple of different levels, I would rather connect and have a relationship more than you just being the guy that plays my records. But on the same token, I don’t like to use the phone all that often. I was one of the first advocates of the pager. I’ve always been one who liked to communicate off of the phone. It’s a little ironic that I say that and then say that I’m a personal person, but when I hook up with people, we have a great time and it’s personal. But with communication, I’m definitely not opposed to sending out emails because I definitely do it often.
In the intro to Daily Conversation, you tell people that you don’t mind them dubbing the mixtape. That’s cool of you to say.
It’s 2008. You have to come to terms with the technology. My official release date wasn’t until January 29. People had the records and they leaked. I wanted to get it out to the people as soon as possible. I’m not worried about the first-week sales and I’m not on a major. None of that matters to me. Hopefully this will translate into some fans and sales. Even if it doesn’t, I want to be doing this with my life. I was doing it from the heart when it didn’t necessarily look lucrative and then the money came in and made it look more appealing. I’m one of the true school dudes where even if I don’t make money off the music, I’m going to do it because I love it. I’m not doing this to gain finances. That’s not my thing.
“Switch” has you switching your flow up every few bars. How did you come up with that concept?
It actually was a concept that a friend of mine, my man Sqyurl, gave to me. He gave it to me in a different way. He said to me, “Imagine that you’re on an elevator and every floor you’re trying to audition for a different A&R and each one wants you to be a different person.” I did that for people who said I was one-dimensional or who said I could only do aggressive-type rap. I did that to show that I could do different things. At the end of the day, all of the artists that you really love, you put them in the one cadence that you love. This is where I love being and I may step out of my comfort zone, but this is really where I love being. Every artist has their comfort zone. “Switch” shows that I can do different things, but it also shows where you can catch me at making joints for most of my career.
Speaking of A&R’s, what’s your experience been like at the labels so far?
(laughs) I spent the majority of my early career chasing A&R’s and chasing labels and then I realized that with all of this technology, it’s not necessary to have the major label to have a career in music. I stopped chasing A&R’s and they stopped chasing me. I’m going to make music and I’m not going to sacrifice my integrity to give them what they’re looking for. I’m not concerned with A&R’s. I have a lot of friends who work at labels, but it’s not about that for me. I want to get out on the road and I want to touch the people. I can go on the road and have a career doing music without ever having to have been signed to a major.
How much better did Daily Conversation come out because you released it independently and could do whatever you wanted on it?
You were one of the first people behind it and supporting me as an artist from the gate. I set out for this to be my mixtape and to show the people what I could do. It blossomed from the buzz off the two Premier records and a couple of other records that I did, one being the 9th Wonder record and a few other things that the people heard me on. Fat Beats was interested in putting it out. But as opposed to having them press it up and distribute it, I wanted to put it in my own hands and put it out through my own company and have them just do distribution on it.
I started my own company Internal Affairs Entertainment 10 years ago. I revived it and brought some life back into it. I did everything myself. I got the songs together and the mixing and the mastering. I did everything and me and my man Vega Benetton got it done and I gave it to Fat Beats to get it out to places I had no ability to get it out to. It’s definitely been a blessing to get it out and to do the songs at my own pace and to not have to worry about an A&R saying I should do a certain beat because it’s his homeboy or whatever. They’re all in cahoots together. It was just a relief to not have anybody over my back telling me what to do. We were able to go in there and come out with the best product we could make.
You kept the guest appearances limited to either members of your group The Coalescence or to your immediate fam like Skyzoo and Stimuli with the exception of Tash from Tha Liks. How important was that to you?
Those guys, at the end of the day, I’m fans of their music. I always like to work with guys that inspire me as an artist and push me to write something crazy. Those guys are Skyzoo, Chaundon, Stimuli and other guys. I’m a big fan of Teflon and the whole M.O.P. First Fam, so that was an honor. I grew up listening to Tha Liks, so to have Tash going back and forth with me trading bars, that was dope. It shows me that I must be on the right path because these guys extended their services to me. They were like, ‘Yo, Tor, we like what you’re doing and if we can help in any way, let us know.’ That’s how a lot of the collaborations came about on the Daily Conversation project.
You put a lot of your biography into “The Journey Part 1”. Did you have to give fans the Torae 101?
Yeah. I think a lot of people thought that I popped up out of nowhere when I got two records with DJ Premier. I had to let them know that this has not been an easy road and there hasn’t been anything that’s happened overnight. It’s been a lot of grind and struggle. When I first got that beat, my intentions weren’t to write that song, but that’s where the first two bars went and it got me in a real good place. My cousin Shells was in the crib when I played that record and it inspired him to write.
Recently I had my album release party and Masta Ace told me that was one of his favorite joints because he was familiar with some of those names and situations. A lot of artists can relate to it because we’re taking these meetings and these guys are selling us these dreams. You can’t stop and you have to keep going. That’s why I named it “The Journey Part 1” I can write a whole new song off the experiences I’ve had since then. I’m from the era of “Soopaman Luva” parts 1, 2 and 3 and I’m here to give you classics. Every time I release something, I’m going to have stories to tell about people I’ve had run-ins with and people I have relationships with. I think that’s a good way to set it up and keep looking out for the new “Journey”’s on the next projects.
How will “The Journey Part 2” come out?
I can talk about the internet and my buzz and hooking up with Primo and DJ Eclipse and all the people who helped me up to this point. I can talk about Fat Beats and HipHopGame for giving me that first look. You guys are helping me make history and it’s going to be documented in the song.
It’s our pleasure. It’s been about a year since “Click” and “Git It Done” were dropped with DJ Premier. How much did those songs help your career?
Very much so, man. I would say Primo has definitely help change my life. It wasn’t an overnight thing, but it was a constant grind and struggle that got me to the point where I was able to do records with Preem. And then when I got to do records with Preem, things pretty much changed overnight, but it wasn’t an overnight thing. I had to struggle and grind to get up to that point. DJ Premier is a legend and the people know that if he takes his time to work with somebody in the game, that artist is somebody that people should be checking for. That song did wonders for my career and for Skyzoo’s. I’m right here for Preem if there is ever anything that he needs. You can look forward to hearing more from us in the future.
What’s it like working with great producers like DJ Premier, Buckwild, Marco Polo and 9th Wonder?
All those guys are legendary and they’re classic guys in their own right. I grew up listening to Preem before I worked with him and he was always on my wish list. I wanted to be signed to Def Jam and have a DJ Premier track on my album. That was my dream and I was able to realize one of those dreams last year with “Click” and “Git It Done”. Preem is down to earth and those sessions were incredible. Even if he was a snob I would still love the records, but just the fact that he was down to earth and humble, it makes it that much better.
And 9th works with a lot of big artists. I went down to North Carolina and we got some food and we just kicked it. These guys’ music is going to stand the test of time because they’re cool and they make good music. It’s the same way with Buckwild, Khrysis and Marco Polo. I just saw Marco last night. I picked him up from the airport. That’s my homie. I don’t just do music with people. I establish relationships. We watch movies and hang out and in our spare time we make banging-ass records.
Did you let Marco smoke in your car?
(laughs) I don’t think Marco’s ever smoked in my car because we haven’t taken any long trips. He lights up! I guess he has respect for the car because he knows I have the fam in there too. But we have an in-store in Long Island, which is an hour to an hour and a half away, so we’ll see if he can hold out there.
Tell him good luck for me. How are you gauging the success of Daily Conversation?
When you’ve been grinding as long as I have been, just having an album in stores is a success. I’ve always wanted to have something in the stores with my name on it and a bar code next to it. To me it’s already a success. Of course I would love to see it sell and have people consider it one of their favorites of the year and maybe one of their favorites of all-time.
It’s definitely a good record. I think it’s a nice introduction to an album. It’s just a mixtape that I’m able to do many things with. It sold out at the in-store and digitally it’s doing well. I get reports from iTunes and other guys every day. Digitally it’s doing well. It’s doing well in markets that I’ve never been to and across the sea. The music is getting out there and they’re supporting it. I was just checking some of the download sites today and it’s been downloaded a lot. As long as people are getting it and digging it, maybe they’ll come out to the show and get it legally. That’s cool with me. But as long as people get the music and they dig it and they love it, that’s all I can ask for, man. That’s a success in itself.
Where do you see yourself in the up-and-coming class of MC’s?
I like this class, man. There hasn’t been a class to come in like this since the school where you had the class of Cam’ron and DMX and Big Pun and N.O.R.E. and Canibus and Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. I remember when that class came in and it felt like something new, like a breath of fresh air. You had these new guys ready to come in and make their mark. People are saying hip-hop is dead but I think there’s a nice amount of cats out here that really get busy and are really from the school of hip-hop. They’re dudes that really study it and I think dudes like Sky and Stimuli and Joell Ortiz, these guys are incredible and these guys are going to be the next dudes to get out there and take the reigns and be on the forefront of the next generation.
What’s been going on with your group The Coalescence?
We’re good, man. We’re in good spirits. Kil was just up here for the album release party and we rocked “Promises”. He stayed at the crib. Vega DJ’d and Wally Suede was there. Kil is working on a project that’s going to be incredible. Vega’s working on some stuff with G.O.D. from Pitch Black and he DJ’s for myself and Chaundon and a few other acts. We’re all staying busy and Wally Suede is banging out beats. Eventually once we all get our things going, I know Vega’s got a new mixtape coming as well, but once we get everything we’re trying to get out out, then it’s time for The Coalescence to coalesce. We’re going to come with a project that’s going to be crazy.
Have you started thinking about your next project?
Yeah. Daily Conversation was wrapped awhile ago and I’ve already begun working with Marco. Me and Marco are doing a group project together that’s tentatively-titled Double Barrel. If you liked the beats on Port Authority, then this new album is going to blow your mind. He’s stepped up the beats and if you’ve been liking what you’ve been hearing from me, imagine that multiplied. He’s pushing me to be a better MC and I’m pushing him to be a better producer. We’re in the lab for 6-7 hours at a time. I think it's going to be crazy. We got a couple of features on there that are going to be crazy. Hopefully we can get it done by the third quarter. Make sure you check for that.
When Pumpkinhead recorded Orange Moon Over Brooklyn with Marco Polo, he said Marco was very meticulous.
Yeah. You want that. You want that from your producer. You don’t want to just go in the booth. You want him to bring the best out of you. That’s the way I am with the beats. He’ll play me something and I’ll pass on that and he’ll ask me why, but I know what this project can be. It’s good for us to push each other.
Marco definitely shoots straight when he wants me to redo it. There’s songs I rewrote when I didn’t like it, then Marco will tell me he’s glad because he didn’t like the first version. It’s good for us to not take these things personally. Everything is not going to be the greatest, but if you want it to be the greatest, you gotta go in there and push each other and if he has to change the kick or the snare, then so be it. We’re going to put out the best product possible. We’re from the era where the producer and the artist got together and really banged out the album. That’s what we want to bring the people. We want to bring back some of that classic feel to hip-hop and I definitely think that this album that me and Marco do is going to do well with the fans and well with the sales as well.
Ideally when would that come out?
We’re definitely just recording at our own pace. He just came back from Europe with Supastition and Illmind. I’m about to go out. Hopefully we can knock out some more joints before I embark on what I’m about to do. Hopefully we can get it out in the third or the fourth quarter. It’s subject to change though.
What else will you be focusing on in the next few months?
The record is out, man. Now it’s time to get out there and sell it and make sure the people fuck with it. It’s time to get out there to those markets and make sure the people can get it. That’s one of the problems with hip-hop. Buyers are afraid to put the product in their stores because the artist may not come from their region, but I’ve been telling people that if you want to hear the Torae album and they don’t have it, then request it. Hit me up on the MySpace and I’ll get on Fat Beats to get it out. My run has to go out farther than Brooklyn. I got people overseas and Down South and everywhere in between letting me know they feel the music. Let me know where the record needs to be and I’ll make sure that it gets there so you can see me touch down on stage and you can get that experience as well.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Thanks to everybody. This last year has definitely been one of the best. Shouts to everybody who helped me get to this point. Thanks for reading this. Thanks to everybody who bought Daily Conversation. Thanks to everyone who downloaded it also. And if you did download it, make sure you put some money back into it and buy the official product or come out to a show or buy a t-shirt. If no gas goes in the car eventually it’s going to stop. Support your artists. There’s a lot of bullshit out there and I’m not telling you to go buy everything, but definitely support the artists you like. They can’t just keep on making music off their back and getting nothing in return. That’s what it is. If you feel like it’s dead and you’re tired of the ringtone rap then support the real.
Also check the YouTube page. A lot of people are telling me they loved my infomercial I did. My man Mike wanted to come with something creative. Sean Price, DJ Eclipse and Amanda Diva were there. And the “Callin’ Me” video is doing well. That’s about to come to TV. And I’m about to go out with Masta Ace and EMC on some shows. They have some crazy energy and I’m coming with that energy too. That’s what it is. Brooklyn, Coney Island all day.