are you doing?
good man. We're popping this off late at night. I have to get up in three
hours for work, but you have to grind and take advantage of every opportunity
you get. I'm definitely thankful for the interview my man.
starting '06 off with a real strong project, what do you want to tell
people about "Statements and Stipulations?"
have to have an open mind when you listen to it. It's not going to sound
like what you're hearing on the streets right now. I went with what I
think I do best, which is story-telling, good wordplay, and strong concepts.
I showed love to all the different places I've lived on this project.
I got joints for everywhere I lived. That's usually not my flavor. I like
doing classical, jazzy, soulful tracks. This is a mix project, so I wanted
to show people that I can do any type of music that represents a certain
lot of people today say that you have to stick to your style. How do you
respond to that?
think you just have to stay true to yourself. Right now, you have people
like managers, industry heads, fans, and other rappers giving you advice
on how to blow. The whole game is like "follow the leader."
You don't have too many people coming fresh anymore. A lot of people hustle
their club-type tracks because they see other people getting on with that.
I don't try to write singles. If it comes out like a single, cool. I write
for myself. I just feel that my style is so different that whatever I
do can be considered mainstream or underground. I don't have a particular
format that I stick to. There is a lot of garbage out there, so I don't
listen to the radio or buy CD's anymore. If I want to listen to something,
I'll pop in one of my old-school tapes in my studio. I'm going to keep
doing me and giving the listeners my style of Hip-Hop. I'm happy with
going gold and having a classic album rather than going platinum with
one or two hot singles. Longevity is the key to this game. Do you want
to be known as a good MC or a great artist?
kind of crazy how "Statements and Stipulations" came together.
really started with you coming at me about doing a mixtape. I didn't want
to do an average mixtape with a bunch of freestyles. I'm confident in
my writing and material, so I wanted to give you a full album since you
gave me a chance. I wanted to do an album with a bunch of different styles.
I wanted to have a concept for it, and I'm a big fan of cartoons. I put
myself in the shoes of a superhero saving the game from being poisoned
from a bunch of garbage MC's putting out that pop-rap. Throughout the
four episodes, I battle three MC's: Arsonist, Ginsu, and Wisdom. You have
to listen through the whole tape to see what happens. It's time for us
to bring that real storytelling aspect back to the game. It's up to us,
this new generation of rappers, to make that "statement." The
"stipulation" is that you have to do real Hip Hop. If you're
not going to do real Hip Hop, don't even do it at all. I'm trying to let
them know that in 2006, I'm bringing it fresh. Put your headphones on
and listen to this, I'm giving you that flavor.
it difficult showing different styles while making the album cohesive
as a whole?
really. I don't know how a lot of these other MC's write, but I know with
me, I let the beat tell me what I'm going to write about because I'm a
real detailed rapper. I try to read a beat and try to structure my tracks
like I'm writing a term paper in school. I start out with a concept, and
I give you an intro and conclusion. That's how I do an album. I know it
sounds crazy, but I wrote the songs in order, except for a couple of tracks.
I went down the line from "Statements & Stipulations Episode
1," to "Wordplay Extraordinaire" and kept going.
also not the type of MC that does 70 or 75 tracks for a project. Cats
try to brag about that stuff all day. All you're telling me is that you
don't know what your album is about and at the end of the day you're just
picking the tracks that sound best to you. What's your album about? You
don't have a concept or nothing. You have a title for it, but I don't
think you know what your album is about. It's rare that I have one or
two tracks left over. Everything that I write is for my album.
do you get your inspiration for your story-telling?
listen to a beat, and whatever the beat tells me, I write fiction or non-fiction
from there. My inspiration is that I want to make it so bad. I'm hungry.
I've been rapping since I was 13, but I've been serious about doing this
for a living the past five. A lot of dudes sign those bad deals and have
nothing to show for it. I grew up on the old-school pioneers. I hope they
see I'm a genuine MC that's knows my rap history. You can check "Ode
to tha Pioneers" on "Statements & Stipulations" to
see that. Guys like AZ and OC are still dropping albums but they don't
get the respect they deserve.
you see things changing?
do see it changing. I don't care how people take this, but I'm going to
be truthful. I don't like Kanye as an individual because I think he's
arrogant and cocky and hasn't handled fame well. I didn't think he was
going to be like that. He talks a lot about his love for God, but God
wouldn't like him being arrogant and cocky. He basically got a second
chance from God and he's hypocritical, but that's just my opinion. Now,
the only reason I brought that up was to show up and coming artists that
we can't roll like that. We need to be thankful for anything we receive.
Still, Kanye is one of the people that are changing the tide of the game.
"Through the Wire" wasn't a radio track, but it started burning
slow and it blew up for him. Even with "Jesus Walks," that was
a risk because any time you talk about religion, you could be offending
someone. It's crazy when you think about what he's done. Common, Mos Def,
Talib Kweli, Saigon
they're all putting down that real music and
are versatile. I feel like I fit in that mode. I'm not trying to be a
conscious rapper or any of those labels, but I can spit the truth, make
good, clean music, and tell stories. I feel that I can be in that generation
that shows we can have a single without talking about guns, jewelry, and
cars. That's all we've been talking about the past six years.
an old interview, Juelz said that a lot of albums sound like artists are
chasing a single the whole time, how important is it to not do that?
very important. You have to take risks because you never know how it's
going to be received by the public. I write what my ear tells me. If I
like it, I think the listeners will like it. I just go on my own ear.
Sometimes I get feedback from my brother, other people in my family, or
my friends, but most of the time I just go on my own ear. If someone likes
it, it's love, if not, it's all good, it's just their opinion. I've got
God on my side and I'm a humble, down-to-earth cat, and I plan on staying
kind of beats did you want for "Statements and Stipulations?"
look for beats that are experimental and fit my personal style. It's crazy,
most of the producers I work with aren't even from the U.S. My man Sketchman
is from Germany and he did most of the production on this mix-album. Strada
is from Canada and he did the second-most production. I also worked with
Triza from Virginia, DeMo from Boston, and Simon Vegas. These guys are
humble and looking to make a mark with up and coming MC's. They know good
music and they definitely know what they're doing. When I was piecing
everything together, I didn't want beats that you would hear on a manufactured
album released from a label. I'm into theatrics. I acted in college. That's
why I did the "Statements and Stipulations" tracks in that mold.
I had my man D-dub, who I acted with in college, do all the hosting for
the episodes. That's just me being theatrical and putting charisma into
my work so it's not watered-down and dry.
made the producers want to give you free beats?
all working for the same cause. I'm putting this out to any producer that
reads this: I don't pay for beats. I feel that if we're all working for
the same cause and we're all on the same level, I don't feel that you
have any right to come to an artist and ask for $500 for a beat. You have
to grind like the artists. Come on, you don't see an unknown rapper charging
a producer $500 to rock on their beats. Any producer that hits me up,
I tell them, "I don't have the funds to hit you off right now. I
would love to be able to pay for beats because some of ya'll producers
are hot and deserve it. Its just at this stage in my career, I can't possibly
go that route. Plus, if you come up with me now, there's going to be the
ultimate payoff at the end." I'm going to work with those that are
genuine and that I can trust. Sketchman and Strada showed me that love
along with everyone else that I'm working with right now. Let's make it
crazy because I sent you my demo, you mentioned it in one of your columns,
and the next day Strada and Sketchman hit me up and we started doing tracks.
I'm thankful for both of those guys. Any producers, holler at me, but
if you're talking about money, we might as well end the conversation right
now. When I get signed, it's going to be a different story. When I start
making money off this music, I am hitting everyone off, not buying things
I don't need. I have to repay those believed in me when I was nothing
that Strada is in Canada and Sketchman is in Germany, how do you guys
work together on songs?
of the work goes through e-mail. That's the age we're in right now, the
technology age. It's worked well that way. I don't even know what they
look like. Strada and I just spoke on the phone for the first time a month
ago and we've been working for a year. They would send me MP3's of their
beats and I 2-track them into my 8-track recorder. I record everything,
do a rough mix and send the vocals to Strada for a final mix. That's how
we do it. I've never been in a big studio before. See, all good equipment
does is enhance your music sound-wise, but if the music isn't good, what
good is the equipment? On the creative aspect, they send me beats and
trust that I'm going to write a song to the best of my ability. As a producer,
I don't think you can work with everybody. You have to work with people
you click with. A lot of dudes don't go well together, but the politics
and money is all that matters. These labels would rather get names on
albums than talent. I know I'm always going to work with Sketchman and
also booked a tour off of this project. How did that happen?
was booked by One Fry Short Productions to headline a show in Houston
two months ago due to my music doing well on their radio station out there.
They had never thrown a full-blown event before, so the show was big for
them also. It went down at the ToC Bar Downtown Houston. I remember when
they hit me up about performing; I said, "Damn, this is right on
point with what I want to do right now to promote my mix-album."
To get off the subject for a second, a year ago a set a plan up for myself
to reach certain goals at certain times and trying to tour was on the
list. Anyways, the show in Houston went real well came out real well,
so I called up One Fry Short a couple weeks later and asked them if we
could put together a tour for this mix-album. The main thing I needed
to know was it possible. Once I got the okay, we started going to work
and booked 13 venues in a month. We're going to be in Houston, Virginia
twice, Detriot twice, California, and NY. We're definitely making it through
some hot places. I'm rolling with two guys I trust for life called Kontact
and SoL. Man, bring people on tour with you that are trustworthy and responsible.
Don't bring people that are leaching off what you're doing. Other than
that I got a hot MC out of Houston called Da Golden Child and his crew
DotCom and XL Pusher. Trust me Da Golden Child is the truth. Speaking
on the tour a little more, I wanted to show that you don't have to be
signed to go on tour. All you need is people to believe in your music.
You don't need a big management company or booking agents just music that
will capture these venues ears
has the reception been so far?
love. Right now, I live in Baltimore. The scene out here is not that big,
and I hate to say it, but a lot of cats hate out here. Don't get it twisted
I love Baltimore, I met my man SoL out here, so I just believe God puts
you in certain places and has you meet certain people for a reason. It's
nice to go to Houston or VA and people know who you are. It's good to
hear people say, "We're looking forward to your performance."
It's love in Houston. I've lived in a lot of places because my father
was in the army, but hands down my favorite place to live was Georgia.
Southern hospitality is not a myth. I'm definitely thankful for the love.
it hard getting off your 9-5 to go on tour?
actually went smoother than I could have envisioned. I work 12-hour shifts.
I work two weeks of days and two weeks of nights, so it's a little rough.
It's crazy, but I work for the government, so I feel like I live a double
life. I've had to keep my emceeing on the low there. I couldn't do it
forever though. About a month ago, I brought my tour schedule and my mix-album
to my first boss and he was looking nervous at first, but the more I showed
him how serious I was, the more he took me seriously. We both went to
talk to the big boss. He takes my album and burns it to his iPod without
even asking. I was like, "Damn, I just got bootlegged." We were
talking and he was asking me questions. He was trying to see how long
I've been doing it and how seriously I took it. He asked me what track
he should listen to, and I said, "Ode to tha Pioneers." He looked
surprised when he heard that. I told him, "If I was garbage, I wouldn't
be sitting here asking for what I'm asking for." They said the music
sounded fresh. That's all I've been getting from my project, is that it's
different and a breath of fresh air. When you can get people that don't
listen to real Hip Hop, just commercial radio, to bump your music and
say it's different and fresh, you're on the right path. When it came down
to it, they were like, "We support you. You don't have to hide this
here, we want people to know that you work here. Whatever time you need
off, just give us your schedule and we got you." I was surprised
because I work for the DoD and I expected them to be real strict. It was
good to see that I had their total support.
not common for up-and-coming MC's to make their own tour. How does this
change the mix-album?
lot of mixtapes have no shelf-life. I want people to know that I have
no problem pushing my product to them through my live shows. I can't do
a video right now, so my stage show is my video. It's important to paint
that picture for the listeners who can't see you on a TV screen. 50 is
the only other MC I've seen tour off of his mixtapes, but in no way am
I trying to follow him. I'm about being different and setting trends.
Once one person has done something, other people have the confidence to
do it as well. If you put hard work into something, why would you let
your work die out in a couple weeks or a month? I'm going to push my music
mix-album for a year like a real album. You will get other music from
me, but I'm going to stay pushing this project.
lot of mixtapes are like fast-food. How important is longevity to you?
it's not good to just continuously drop project after project, because
the quality is going to go down. It's like if you're playing a sport and
you're facing a garbage team one week and a good team the next week, you're
already looking towards the good team, so you get beat and outdone by
the team you were sleeping on. That's how mixtapes are. Sometimes MC's
are dropping and pushing another project before the last one really burned
because they want to stay in the public's ear. That's cool, but look at
it like this, what will be remembered a year later, a quality mixtape
that is full of good music or a bunch of mixtapes dropping every week?
I'm coming with quality every time. When I drop, know you're going to
hear inventive music. That's what I did with this project. I brought a
concept together through the 4 episodes on this mix-album. You can learn
something each time. I go for longevity and I try to make classic material.
In two or three years, I want people to go back and say, "This project
is still hot." The next project I drop will be totally different.
It's going to have that classic 90's soul to it. "Statements and
Stipulations" is my introduction.
more thing, as MC's, we have to go back to rocking shows. We can't just
stand in the middle of the stage and rap. We have to go back to the shows
in the '80's where they really tore it down. After a show, I look like
I just worked out at the gym. A lot of dudes finish a show looking like
they just stepped out of a limo. Give the people a show.
next for you?
track "Ode to tha Pioneers" should be hitting commercial radio
in February or March. After that, I'm working on a demo project. I don't
want to let the cat out of the bag, but you're definitely going to like
the next couple of projects. I'm not going anywhere, but you're not going
to get something new every month or two. Just know that when I do drop,
you're going to get quality material.
are your goals for 2006?
looking for '06 to be my year. I see myself getting signed this year.
I feel like I can be a major player in the game. God gave me the talent
and I have good people supporting me, giving me genuine support. I have
the support structure as well as my internal motivation. I look at it
like this, I'm not just doing this because I love Hip-Hop, but getting
in the game affords me the chance to make a better life for the people
close to me as well. I'm going to take care of my family and close friends
I trust with whatever money I get. I'm content with having a nice house.
I don't need a mansion and 10 cars. I just want people checking for Wordsmith
and to know that you're going to get something fresh every time you hear
you have any resolutions for the new year?
to be consistent. I was pretty consistent in '05. I have some things cooked
up. You're going to see a lot of wordplay from Wordsmith. I just want
to be consistent with every project that I drop and I want to let people
know that I'm a force.
do you want to say to everybody out there?
out there and cop the album, and just get ready for a brand-new wave of
MC to come through. Keep checking what I'm doing. Keep downloading the
Hip Hop Disciples tapes. Keep your ear and mind open for me. When you
hear my music, I can truly say that it won't sound like anything else
in your tape-deck right now.