You’ve been working on your debut album for a long time. How’s it coming at this point?
It’s coming real good. I got a lot of good production on there and a lot of decent songs that I’m feeling good about. We don’t have a date for it yet because we’re trying to set up the release for my album so I could sell a whole bunch of units. Everything’s looking good, man. I’m just real excited about it.
Are you frustrated with how long it’s taken?
It’s not frustrating me at all because I’m building a new fanbase and I’m doing a lot of shows and my internet presence is growing and I’m getting a lot of material out there. I’m getting real fans and a real following so it’s not a bad thing at all that my album hasn’t come out yet. I think it’s actually a good thing.
Do you think you’ll have a more loyal fanbase because of the slow grind?
Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what it is. The people are getting to know me for me and my good music and if I would have dropped an album before then it was just for the people who knew me for a song or just the people who knew me before the deal but now I’m reaching so many more people and really letting them know who I am. I’m going to be around for a lot longer just because these people really want to see me do well.
How would you describe your fanbase today?
I got a wide fanbase. It’s just everywhere, people from everywhere, all types of different colors, different age range, different parts of the world and different parts of the United States. I can’t even put just one label on them. They’re just everywhere.
You’ve been signed to Warner for almost two years. Are you happy with how everything is moving for you there?
Yeah, definitely. I feel a lot of support from the people at the label. They’re still interested in my project and we all work together to basically make this project as big as possible. I couldn’t be happier with them.
There’s been some reshuffling there. Has that been tough getting new people to care about your project when they weren’t there when you first signed?
It’s been a little bit different just because of all the people who were there when I signed and when we started my project, they’re not there anymore. When the new people came along I was worried if they were going to have the same passion about my project but I still stay working hard and stay in their faces and I’m signed to an independent label through their label so it’s a 50/50 deal. Anything that we do, we bring it to them and see if it’s popping and they’ve been real responsive to it and loving it and we’ve just been rocking and rolling and making it happen.
We’re trying to build up the best career for me as possible. It’s easy these days to just make a song and be known for that one song but I’m trying to last. (laughs)
One of the Warner media guys who’s not there anymore compared you to Juelz Santana. Is that a fair comparison?
I think a lot of people compare me to Juelz just because of my look because I’m young and I look fresh but as far as the comparison as far as the music goes, I think we make different types of music. I’ve been a Dipset fan since I was real young but I get a lot of comparisons based on the music I make and I don’t get mad at any of them.
You’ve had some very pop tracks like “Say Yeah” and more dirty tracks on your mixtapes. What can we expect on the album?
The album’s going to go crazy. I just finished filming and working on different types of music and trying to bring different genres in with what I do and it’s been going real good. I just been trying different things. I’ve been experimenting more. I sing on all my hooks. I don’t think I’ve had anybody sing for me yet, as far as R&B artists. I’ve just been working on my writing and doing different types of stuff with my music. I’ve just been working on my album and I’ve been releasing stuff in between too, so it’s just been going crazy.
How important is it to consistently release mixtape tracks while you finish up your album?
It’s real important. It’s real vital to the game right now. This side of the game, it’s so hands-on and the fans are on the internet every day and all the time. Just being an artist who likes to connect and reach out to my fans, I like to keep them excited and just give them something to look forward to so they’re always excited about me. It’s easy to fall off real fast but it’s so easy to connect with people. All you gotta do is have the internet and YouTube and MySpace and promote yourself real hard. If you don’t stay popping out there then the people will definitely forget about you.
A lot of your early buzz first came from using the internet. Do you think you helped set the trend for new artists going online?
I don’t like to say I’m one of the guys who set the trend but I’m definitely one of the people who it worked out for because the internet fans, they’ll keep it real with you because they’re not in your face so they’re going to say whatever they feel like saying. Anybody can put anything on the internet and they get a lot of hate but there’s been way more love than hate on there for me. I get a lot of fans who support me and want to hear more and more music from me. Just having that has been real good for me to be able to run with that and be able to be that internet dude and have people say that he kind of started a trend on that. It’s cool but I don’t really take that title for myself. I just keep working and grinding.
Do you consider yourself a pioneer for Pittsburgh hip-hop?
Yeah, for sure. There’s a lot of people who work hard in Pittsburgh and there's a lot of people who have worked hard in Pittsburgh but as far as the game goes and staying relevant and really being the face of Pittsburgh and the entrainment industry out here, I feel like I hold that down based on what I do and the types of things that I’ve accomplished.
How close do you stay with other Pittsburgh hip-hop artists like Charon Don and Boaz?
It’s actually a real, real close network. Charon actually saw me grow up. I used to look up to him so much. I’m not saying that I still don’t but he was always an older cat. When I first started rapping, he heard my first CD. I took it to him and played it for him. He heard my first material. We’re real close. He comes to all my shows and I go to all of his shows. Me and Boaz grew up recording in the same studio I.D. Labs and we share the same publicist and everything. Boaz is my man and I always had respect for his g rind and what he does with his music. There’s also artists like Kev the Hustler and O.E on the West Side. We always mess with each other for the sake of the cause and we do shows together and it’s just all love.
How much did E. Dan and DJ Huggy help you grow as an artist at I.D. Labs?
I learned so much working with E and Huggy, just how to put songs together and how to make real songs with a verse, hook, verse, bridge, hook or whatever, whatever. I learned how to really just put all my bars together, if I wanted to do a 16, 8, 24 or 32. They taught me how to really format stuff and really do it the right way. And as far as recording they taught me a lot. They taught me to to use my voice and how to make things come out right in the booth. E is my mentor. I mess with E every day. Everything is still gravy with that too.
Do you prefer to record in Pittsburgh today?
I stay working in Pittsburgh. I stay working in New York and L.A. too. It’s really wherever I record. I really don’t want to sit down and say what’s for the album and what’s not. I like to see what it comes out sounding like and if it comes out in the end where it just has that natural album feeling and the sound, then its’ cool and we’re going to tuck that away and we keep going. I try to record at least two or three songs a day and I get to the studio five days a week so I record as much as possible.
Do you think fans on a national and international level will start paying more attention to Pittsburgh?
Yeah, definitely. I definitely think more people are paying attention to Pittsburgh as a city. The industry is growing. It’s not just artists but also promoters and the artists that are coming here. They’re coming to Pittsburgh and seeing what we’ve got popping here. They hear our music in the clubs and wonder what’s that. It’s just spreading gradually and I’m happy for sure.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have the numbers of a New York or Philly but how big do you think the city can get?
It can get as big as the people involved can let it get. I’m involved in the Pittsburgh scene but I also have to make sure that I establish myself as an artist so I can stay representing the Pittsburgh scene. My focus is still representing for the city and hopefully it’ll grow with what I’m doing and with what I’m doing as well.
What kind of potential do you think Boaz has?
I think Boaz is going to be great because of his song-writing ability and how he works. You’ll hear his music and you won’t even know where he’s from because it’s so good. It doesn’t have that around the way feeling. It just sounds refreshing. That’s why I think Boaz is going to do well.
What do you want for your album at this point?
It’s not really about a missing piece right now. It’s just about timing. It’s all about the setup. Before you knock somebody out you gotta set them up for it. I feel like that’s what we’re doing now. We’re about to drop the mixtapes and we’re getting another single or two ready and by the time we drop that the album is gonna be done and we’re going to be ready to start promoting it. I really feel like it’s a timing thing.
What do you think you can accomplish in the game today?
I just plan to really, really shock some people and do some numbers, man. Really sell a bunch of albums. Really off my internet presence and what I’m doing with the people, they’re really responsive and they’re really supporting it and just as an artist, I think that would be a good thing just to show people that I could sell. I know I could sell units. It’s all about the work you put in. The music is there and I got enough of a fanbase where they’re going to tell everybody else about it. I just have to keep going and in time it will do what it does and by the time I drop an album I think it will be perfect.
What can you tell us about your mixtape Flight School?
Flight School is a bunch of stuff that I’ve been recording for the past two or three months. Just based off of me doing shows and having to go different places and being on long trips, I was really, really needing a lot of music to play in my iPod that was going to keep me in that nice little zone where I could just fly out or ride out and do what I do. I figured cool, I’ll just make a bunch of songs that people will want to play in their iPods. The music is still there and the concepts are still there. It’s like flight music for me. It’s giving me that before and after effect when I get on the plane or when I’m getting my car service from the airport to the hotel. It’s just capturing those feelings and putting them on CD.
I’m also working on Grow Season part 2. I’m going to be dropping mixtapes like crazy.