Man, I’m feeling good because we’re doing this interview! I’m coming off a cold so my voice is crazy right now.
Your new mixtape is ‘Da Fuck Else U Want 4 Free?’. What inspired this project?
The whole inspiration behind the project, especially with the title, was that I found that when you’re doing music and you’re independent and you’re first establishing your buzz and you’re grinding and people aren’t as familiar with you as they are with a major artist that’s established, they’re always looking at you crazy when they see that your music costs money. They don’t always understand the money and the grind that goes behind putting together a quality, finished product. I’m trying to touch on my fans worldwide and on the internet. To make it for free was also a statement. What the fuck else do you want for free?
It’s obvious that you can’t make any money off this particular project as it is a free download. Why put it out for free?
It made sense to me. Obviously when you’re independent, you want to move on and at least establish yourself with the majors. That means that you have to think outside of the box. It’s not just that either. You have to observe what they’re doing. I don’t think people will pay attention unless you’re moving like the majors do. It kind of seems like it’s the growing trend. It was my intention to put something out like that, especially since I’m from Baltimore and a lot of people aren’t familiar with the city. I wanted to put something out for free so that they would be that much more enticed to listen to it.
Are you getting the response you wanted so far?
So far, it’s been good. Everything I’ve done has always been a gradual process. I’ve never been one to just shoot up overnight. Everything’s moving a lot faster than we anticipated.
What are your goals for Da Fuck Else U Want 4 Free?
Well, ultimately my goal for this project was to call attention to myself outside of Baltimore. People are just starting to recognize Baltimore as an entertainment market with the popularity of the show The Wire. But as an entertainment industry, we’re considered a very small market. And on top of that, we haven’t really had too many artists in hip-hop do anything. I don’t think that’s something that we did wrong. I just think that’s ultimately how people see Baltimore as a whole. So when we decided to put it out for free, it was with the intent of reaching a lot of listeners. It was also to build off of the momentum that I’ve gained over in France. I had to call attention to what I was doing outside of here so that other people would be interested and they would look at what I have planned afterwards. We have some big things planned afterwards and we hope that this will be the springboard for it.
What inspired your song “Sinister”?
I definitely had to let the people know that I can rap. So many people are caught up in trying to put out a single. I wanted to show people that I could really rhyme with that. The other purpose of “Sinister” is that if people really, really, really listen to it, they’ll hear me saying that I'm not going to stop and that I’m determined to make it. When I reference being underappreciated and really underestimated my whole life, that was reflected through the song. So for anybody who wasn’t feeling it, I would challenge them to go back and really listen to it. I’m not talking about drugs and the things that are really common. I’m saying that I’m determined and that I’m going to make it happen. I’m letting people know that it's a wrap and that I’m focused.
What was it like writing “Bmore State of Mind”?
That’s another song that’s been really popular. With “Bmore State of Mind,” I had to put out a song that really represented my city and would really make people understand what Bmore is and what the mindstate is out here. The crime rate is crazy out here. In some cases, you just have knucklehead kids doing knucklehead stuff. But in some cases, you have to consider their thought processes and what the kids are doing. I really just wanted people to know what it was like to live in this city. In “Bmore State of Mind,” I really wasn’t trying to glorify anything. I was just really trying to let you know what it’s like growing up in the streets of Baltimore.
What was it like for you growing up in Baltimore?
Actually, it was an adjustment. I was born in Florida but moved to Baltimore at the age of 9. It was a big adjustment. But growing up in Baltimore, it’s a different experience because there are a lot of things that we do here that I think everybody does, but it’s done here in a different manner. It’s a really harsh reality out here. I think that the crime is out of this world here. People see The Wire and they’re like, ‘Wow, is it really like that in Baltimore?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, dog. It’s worse.’ I’m just thankful that I’m still here. (laughs) Growing up in Baltimore, I realized that you can get it. That’s not anything that I’m glorifying. But growing up in Baltimore makes me thankful that I’m still here and that I’m still pursuing my dream. It also made me more determined to get everything done that I need to get done.
Mullyman has had his problems getting his songs played on Baltimore radio. How does the radio treat you?
I know Mullyman personally and he has a whole different situation. With me, I’ve never actually taken a hard approach with trying to get on the radio in Baltimore. Baltimore is a really small market in terms of how the entertainment industry views it as a whole. We really only have one major radio station that plays hip-hop. Most of the other radio stations are R&B and other genres and AM radio. We only have one major hip-hop radio station and with that in mind, we already know that it will be that much harder to get on the radio. Mully had success with one of his singles and I can’t really speak on why he didn’t get on after that. I don’t know his situation.
I’m familiar with some of the DJs at 92Q, but I never really made a conscious effort to get on there. I’ve been getting a lot of love overseas and since then, I’ve really been building on that. That’s another reason why we wanted to make this mix project free. Here in Baltimore, as well as abroad, you have to call attention to what you’re doing. I have an established fanbase here in Baltimore. We’re actually marketing this project in Baltimore and overseas. You might see flyers and stickers in the city and I have people moving CDs to call attention to the music in the hopes that when the radio catches on about it, they’ll support it. There’s only one radio station and there’s only so many time slots. I can’t just walk in and be like, ‘Play this.’ I just feel like with the momentum I have going, I’ll get play. If everything continues to move in a positive direction, hopefully they’ll come to me and ask me for my music.
Artists in other cities, like Miami and Atlanta, present a unified front. Do artists in Baltimore have that same kind of unity?
I would say yes and no. There’s a much larger hip-hop community here in Baltimore than I think most people are aware of. There’s a very big hip-hop community here. We have a club called The 5 Seasons. You can’t possibly be known unless you’ve been on the radio or if you performed at The 5 Seasons. Everybody’s done The 5 Seasons at some point in their career. If they haven’t and they’re known at all, it’s because they’ve been on the radio. As far as the whole underground movement, I think there’s a lot of support and there are a lot of artists doing things together. I’ve done that. I hope that it continues to move in the direction that it’s been moving and that major labels will pay attention.
I feel that we have more to offer than club music, which is what we’re popular for right now. I hope that soon we’re known for hip-hop.
What’s it going to take for Baltimore to be known as a hip-hop city?
Well, on the artists’ side of things, it’s going to take more people investing in themselves and trying to put out quality projects. When you have everybody trying to accomplish something, not all of the artists put their stuff out the right way. It’s not always just the music. It’s the business itself too. A lot of artists have that talent, but they kind of rush just to get something out there. From an artist’s point of view, I would just tell them to take their time because that may be the only time they’re able to put something out. You want to put your mark on history and have the people understand what it is. There’s definitely more to putting something out than just putting it out. And I guess in terms of actually building on the movement itself, I just think that it requires more support on other levels. We need more support on the radio and that also goes along with artists stepping their game up so that the radio looks at us seriously and says, “Okay, I will play your music.” If everybody focused on what they’re doing, you’re going to see a full-fledged movement eventually.
You mentioned that you have big moves to make after this mixtape. What exactly are you doing?
Every time I do something, I’m always thinking of the next move because life is like chess. You make a move, really, in hopes of winning the game ten moves later. I’m already working on what the next thing is. In addition to what I’m doing right now with this CD, we have plans for dropping a new single for the mixshows. In addition to that, I’m working on a new project, Audio Crack. Audio Crack is going to be my baby. I’m taking my time with that. I have every intention to make that a classic album when I put it out. I know people hear the word ‘classic’ all the time. I want this to be a classic. I’m definitely taking my time with it. Before Audio Crack comes out, there will probably be a mixtape. It’s all about marketing. I want people to listen to it and say, ‘It really is a classic!’ I want to make sure that this is a classic album. In addition to that, we’re in the process of pitching another single overseas in the hopes of getting a deal to put another album out overseas. We’re staying busy and staying in the studio.
Where did the idea for Audio Crack come from?
Like so many other rappers, I don’t have an entirely clean background. I look at it like this – I didn’t want to come out and market and glorify drug-selling and things of that nature, but with the title, I just found that Audio Crack is so catchy. People think that’s catchy. I hustle with this music. I’m really pushing this music like it’s ’97 and we have cocaine. I’m moving this music and it’s addictive. People come up to me to talk to me about my music. They aren’t friends or family. These are complete strangers that tell me, “I play your music like I do Jay-Z or 50 Cent. I just can’t stop listening to it.” That made me think, ‘Hey, my music’s addictive.’ That’s where the idea for Audio Crack came from.
You’ve never had major label support or promotion, yet you have fans telling you how much your music means to them. What does that mean to you?
Man, that’s so humbling. With a lot of people, when somebody tells them that they like their music, it causes their ego to grow. It’s not like that for me. In a lot of my music, no matter what the nature of the song is, I’m speaking on things personally. It’s my thoughts. I’m just spitting about how I feel about something. For someone to tell me that they love it, it’s humbling. Anybody can rant and make a song, but when you’re putting stuff out for people to hear, you’re opening yourself up to their opinions. When people tell you that they get your shit, it’s humbling. Sometimes growing up here, you think, ‘I’m going fucking crazy.’ To have somebody tell you that they understand, it’s crazy and it’s humbling.
When will Audio Crack drop?
Ideally, I’m like a good year away. But we have a new mixtape coming out soon, in the next three to six months. It’s called G.R.I.N.D (Getting Rich Is No Decision). What I mean by that is that with the unemployment rate and the way everything is, just to survive, without even living lavishly, man, you have to be rich. Me personally, I have three children, so I have more than myself to live for. So getting rich is no decision for me. It’s something that I have to do. Download What the Fuck Else You Want for Free and cop my other releases. Hit my website and you’ll see them. Really, get familiar with it.
How does having three children change your perspective on the music?
One of my children is by another woman than the one I’m with currently. That’s just its own stress in itself. Lord knows, I’ve been in court cases over my sons and my youngest child is autistic. It’s going to be a whole lot more than an 18 year commitment there. I know you’re going to be a parent your whole life, but with my son being autistic, I realize that I’m going to be in it for the long haul. When I’m in the booth, I realize that I have to go hard. It’s really no decision.
What’s your next move?
The next move right now is just to continue marketing the downloadable project and just get in the studio and do what I do. I’m trying to line up my performances. I have a legitimate company. I just hope that I can continue to push forward the UnReality brand. I co-own HGE, which is a brand for women. It’s getting really popular. We don’t really have a storefront or anything, but we do a lot of orders on the internet and we have a huge fanbase when we go to shows and we move a lot of product at shows. The crocheting part is mostly for the women but we do a lot of custom stuff too. The UnReality brand is very important to me. I’m always hustling around and trying to make all of this happen. Getting rich is no decision for me. I have more than myself to think about right now.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I want you to understand that I’m an MC. I don’t just do this for the money. If I wasn’t getting paid, I would still be doing it. Getting rich off of this is just a dream come true. Anybody reading this, I just want them to realize that I’m not going anywhere. You can either ride with me or collide with me, but I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to get it done.
You can download UnReal’s Da Fuck Else U Want 4 Free? on his website