Even rappers have feelings sometimes. Torae put together a conceptual album detailing the ups and downs of a relationship dropping today. Heart Failure, his third release, shows a different side of the Coney Island MC. HipHopGame talks with Tor about the album, gets some relationship advice and endures the sappiest sentence ever said in a HipHopGame interview.
Your new project Heart Failure is a conceptual album detailing the highs and lows of a relationship. How did you come up with the idea and see the execution through?
The concept was something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile but I felt like first impressions are key, especially in this realm. I didn’t want to come out doing something that was more relationship-themed or “chick songs” because I think I would have been pigeon-holed into that space. And so my first project that people heard me on, The Daily Conversation, I think it kind of just showed a new kid who was hungry and could rap and was connected with a few producers. And then I followed up with Double Barrel with one producer and it was more gritty and we showed that we could put together a group-type project and show cohesiveness and stick to the concept and rock out.
Now I felt like I was in a space where people know I can rhyme and people know that I’m associated with the upper echelon as far as production and MCs go. Now it was time to spread my wings a little more and show my versatility. That’s what it is. The ladies have been waiting and they’ve been patient. Now I felt it was time to give it to them.
That’s what she said.
(laughs) That is my go-to line! At least once a day it has to happen!
Last year I had a sixth grader use it in class in perfect context in the middle of a lesson.
(laughs) Classic! One of your sixth graders! (laughs) That’s pretty funny. I wouldn’t put anything past kids these days.
On “Outta Here” you talk about changing your relationship status on Facebook. It’s been so long since I’ve been single that Facebook wasn’t even popular when I was single, which makes me sound really old. How does the relationship status work on Facebook?
I guess it depends who’s in your social network. My actual Facebook page is just my family members and my real friends, people I’ve known my whole life like former classmates and former co-workers. Everybody in that circle already knows. I don’t have a lot of outsiders or industry people on my personal Facebook. Anybody who knows me pretty much knows my relationship status and they know what’s going on in my life. I put pictures of my kids up there. That was more or less saying that as a nod to popular culture and what was going on at the time. When you make songs you have to reference things that people are going through. Facebook is pretty popular not just in the urban community or the hip-hop community. It’s worldwide and I feel like it’s an instant connection. A line like that makes the listener feel that much more connected to the project because it’s something they can directly correlate to.
What advice do you have for others on their Facebook relationship status? Should fellas talk with the girl before updating it to save any potential embarrassment?
Absolutely! I think it’s definitely something that should be discussed. I think it’s something that both parties should agree on beforehand. My wife, I’m actually married, she’s not a part of a social network. She doesn’t have a Facebook or MySpace or any of that. I’m starting to think she’s a killer because she’s so low-key!
Absolutely you have to make sure that that’s something that the other party agrees to or you could be left out there looking pretty bad.
Being married really is the route to go for less headaches, huh?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s easier…Well, I won’t say it’s easy, but it keeps you focused. There’s a sense of stability there and especially with me being an entertainer and living in an unstable environment, you need to have some kind of stability that you can rely on since the other variables don’t stay the same.
Since you live a pretty calm lifestyle, from what I know…Well, you could be Wayne Brady on The Chappelle Show. But how much of what you talk about on Heart Failure comes from personal relationships versus what you’ve seen and heard from others?
Any time I do a song and any time I write lyrics down and do any type of music, it’s all inspired from a place and something personal that I went through or something that I was connected to or something my friends went through. It’s all drawn from pieces of reality. I don’t talk about things that are so out of my realm that I can’t relate to. On Heart Failure, I’m not talking about one person, per se. It’s more or less about different relationships that I’ve gone through in the past as a single guy and as a guy dealing with different girls and blah, blah, blah. It’s definitely real and it’s fact-based. It’s definitely non-fiction. It’s not one particular female though. It’s more a collection of many different stories all rolled into one project.
On “Popular Demand,” you talk about trust issues in a relationship when it’s time to hit the road for tour dates. How big do you think that issue is in the hip-hop community between performers and their partners?
I definitely think there’s a foundation of trust that has to be there. I always say you can’t pull a guy off the street and expect him to perform in front of 50,000 people. It takes a certain type of person to be able to do that. It takes the same to be in a relationship. You have to have a level of trust. You have to have a level of confidence within yourself. You have to have a level of understanding because it’s not the basic or just normal type of career path. It’s something different and it takes a lot to be involved with an entertainer. With that being said, I feel like overall, you can marry a doctor that goes away on business conferences and you still have to have that type of trust or you could marry a lawyer that has to meet with clients at all hours of the night and you have to still have that level of trust. If you’re going to be in a relationship, it should come from that place. The foundation should be a certain level of trust and understanding where you could call yourselves a couple because if not, that’ll kind of manifest into bigger problems within the relationship.
Do you think women with rappers are less trusting than other women?
I think that the moral fiber, overall nowadays, is really, really thin. I look at the kids. I look at the teenagers and I just see how they move. Even people in their early and mid 20s, I see how they move and sex is all free and it’s a lot more loose nowadays. I feel like there aren’t a lot of traditions that come from our parents or grandparents. I don’t think those things are transferring down into this generation. There’s not a lot of trust and there’s not a lot of monogamy. There’s no need. I feel like people are taking it back to when it was real carefree in the 60s when people were having sex and just having fun. It’s kind of in that space again. When I look out and I view what the people are doing, there’s definitely a lot of cheating and adultery. Those things happen. I just think that’s where we are in the world. I don’t think it’s so frowned upon, like having kids out of wedlock. Things that were so taboo at one time, I feel like that’s the norm now.
I mean, I could go off on a whole tangent about that as well, but for the most part, to each his own. If you don’t want to be tied down and committed to one person, I don’t feel like you should be, like this is what you’re supposed to do and this is what looks good to your parents. You have to live with yourself at the end of the day and if you’re cool with not being in a relationship or giving your all to one person then by all means, go for it.
Present company excluded, do you think groupies are as thirsty today as they’ve always been or have they disappeared as record sales declined?
(laughs) Well, you know, me being a “boom-bap” or “hip-hop real rap” type of guy, there’s definitely a lot less women at my shows then when I go to a Drake or J-Cole show. There’s women in droves at those shows. Mine are a little more low-key, like dirty sneakers as opposed to heels and hoodies as opposed to halter tops. (laughs) That’s what I have to choose from so I choose not to choose out of that crowd. (laughs) But I think there’s still a certain attraction to entertainers and people who are in the public stage and have confidence onstage and a certain amount of power and influence. That’s sexy to a lot of women. As long as there’s a stage and somebody on it, there’s always going to be somebody who wants to jump those bones.
The groupie game is pretty wild as far as the documentation of every blow job that’s ever been administered. Why are rappers still falling in that trap instead of going the classy escort route?
(laughs) Have a little respect! Deny Kat Stacks! Have a little class, a little couth about yourself!
And I don’t know what keeps these guys going back. I’ve never been the type of person to divulge my personal information and I’ve never been the type to want to broadcast my love life. I could be sitting in a room with 20 females that I slept with and no one would know but me and each of the females. That’s always how I’ve been.
I’ve never understood how a Kat Stacks or Superhead has been able to make a career out of bedding athletes and entertainers. How does Kat Stacks still keep scoring? How is that possible? She’s all over the internet. Why do you want to do it? Are you intrigued? Do you want to see what the end result is? Do you just want to go at it and see what it’s like? We've seen this movie a million times. Why do you want to be in it? Maybe some of it is publicity and some of it is good marketing, like Amber Rose or Kim Kardashian. People ask what she’s famous for and it’s having sex with Ray J and then Reggie Bush. She doesn’t have any particular set of talents other than being attractive and naked.
Sometimes that’s all you need.
You’re right! I’m about to go a whole new route! Rap ain’t working. Topless Tor!
That’s where our business relationship ends. No offense. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fans, but I can’t be one.
(laughs) I understand. Sometimes you have to lose one to gain a hundred! (laughs)
Your last album, Double Barrel, like you said, was incredibly street. You on a whole different vibe here. Do you think your fans will support it or be confused?
Um, well, I was absolutely apprehensive about it, just coming from where I was coming from. But the people who understood Torae as an artist would understand the project. Every day can’t be a Double Barrel day. Even the hardest of the hard need something soft to cuddle up on once in awhile and I feel like I’ll be cheating my supporters out of the full Torae package and I feel like I would be cheating myself if I just stayed in one lane and one zone for the duration of my career and not really be an artist. I don’t ever want to be pigeon-holed or be put in a box as just one type of thing. I'm a multi-talented, multi-dimensional type of person and I feel like my music should reflect that. Where Daily Conversation was an introduction and it just let people know that I was rapping all over the place and Double Barrel was more dedicated to the streets and was more gritty and just more aggressive. This is another side.
Do you have anything special planned for wifey on Valentine’s Day?
Yeah. I’m going to get up, go to the gym, and then probably go to my office and then probably go home and watch some basketball and that’s that! (laughs)
Spoken like a true married man.
That’s it, man! I love her, I’m married. I wear this stupid ring everywhere! Nah, I’ll stop! It’s not a big deal. We’ll go grab a bite to eat and nothing extra, out of the ordinary. She’s a student so she’ll be in school until pretty late tomorrow. I’ll keep it simple. I like to show my affection everyday instead of just on February 14th. As cliché as that may be, it’s just real. Once you’re married and you’ve been together for awhile, you don’t want to become complacent but Valentine’s Days become less and less important because you’re not showing your love by going out and buying a million teddy bears and balloons and stuff like that. You’ll spend a couple hundred dollars for what? That’s not necessary. Use that love and ingenuity and money and focus on something better, like paying off a bill! That’s just me. That’s just who I am.
That whole part about being affectionate every day is a little too mushy for my liking. That’s by far the mushiest thing ever said on HipHopGame.
(laughs) Definitely! That’s what it is. Just open up. By no means am I going soft. You have Pharoahe Monch, who made “The Light.” A Tribe Called Quest had “Electric Relaxation.” Main Source had “Looking at the Front Door.” We’ve all expressed these feelings before. I just put it all in one nice, cohesive project.