Tha Soloist takes his art seriously and it is a direct reflection of how he thinks and feels. He's from New Jersey, born and raised, just a stone throw from New York. He lives and breathes Hip Hop. He is a rebel towards the majority's reliance on having a "meaningless" nine to five type job (one that brings to life, in many cases, a continuous outcome of unhappiness in one's life). His music centers on the trials and tribulations of life (i.e the struggles). He started writing poems and drawing before he ever touched the mic. He liked conveying his thoughts on life into words which ultimately led to the mic.
He's a generous soul who puts his life out for everyone to see, unabashedly. His name personifies who he is, an individual living in a world concentrating on what he wants to do with his music, art, and life. He's constantly showing who he is not only as an artist but as a person, in his music and on social media. You are going to have to dig into his music to completely understand who he is as Tha Soloist. He just wants you to enjoy his music and feel it in your core and understand what he is trying to say. He treats everyone the same, as equals and friends. He's an interesting individual with a lot to explain. Here are some examples. I hope you enjoy the interview!
First of all, thanks for the opportunity. You are quite the elite artist with skills of being an MC and a producer that are both top level. What is the differences to your mindset into your approach as a producer? When you are making the beats for your project, do you try to center the total soundscape on the idea that you are trying to create or does the collective work of making your beats inspire the vocalized content?
I started making beats in order to record my poetry over them. I was buying beat CD's, then decided to start making my own, but back then I was too picky with it, so I wanted to use beats by other producers. I realized producing is more of a meditative state as opposed to writing. Writing makes you talk, producing makes you listen.
I started using my own beats later on, and fell in love with it. Producing under another name also gave me the freedom to be the man behind the scenes. The one that keeps quiet.
I make the beat AND THEN I write to it. The beat will let me know what I'll say, and how I'll say it.
What are some of the main ideas from topics that you are really trying to nail home to the listeners? Would you say it is the heart and soul behind the main purpose of your art?
The main idea is waking people up to be spontaneous, and always in the moment with enthusiasm. We can use our pain to learn and grow from. My purpose is to be honest about how I feel. I like to tell people to look deep within themselves; that's where all the answers are. The great artists can't be the not so great ones. There wouldn't be Classics if it wasn't for bad albums. There wouldn't be beautiful music if there wasn't ugly, hurtful music. This shit has been fucked up for the real artists with true wisdom for ages.
What toll does being an artist have you noticed that is a big negative that most people fail to recognize? Do you feel artists, in general, are highly heralded over career paths that may be more physically beneficial to humanity? Do you feel the toll and the pursuit of such a path is very hard to overcome and creates problems that you have noticed from others and within yourself?
There's always difficulties in any path you choose, but it was worth it all. If you love the music like I do all the tolls, all the tribulations, all the trials; are all part of the game. Because in the end I'm just in the music game, and that's just what it is, but we live this shit we breathe for this and we die for this; you know what I'm saying? This is the love of my life right here, music for me goes before anyone anything; that's my art, that's my poetry, and that's my feelings on paper for the world to see.
How do you feel that the general populace of fans of Hip Hop music treat the ones they adore and listen to? Do you feel the "legends" of the Hip Hop culture are properly compensated with support for all that they have done for the music industry and the global culture? What should be changed on this aspect if anything?
You know you have to do the business side of things, and that's the only way you're really going to see growth with support and you know being in the music industry and all that stuff. We don't get the respect we deserve, but the forefathers don't get the respect they deserve, so what makes you think that you deserve any respect? We're just coming here off of their backs, and we didn't really support them the way they were supposed to be supported. Now we supported them back then cuz we were kids and we bought albums then when we get older we ain't got the money to buy shit; we ain't got the money to support we're at home supporting ourselves right now.
What are things out of your circle of control that make you change the ways you have gone about something with your music or maybe you have always stayed true to yourself? How has that impacted you by pursuing higher levels of monetary success?
That's the thing I never pursued higher levels of monetary success so I just had no real choice but to stay true to myself cuz if I wasn't true to myself and I was making music; I would just feel like I was being a liar. So I just try to stay as true to myself as I can, and no I'm not perfect, I'm not saying that we can always be in the moment. I'm not saying that we can always be inspired and motivated and filled with enthusiasm of course I want the monetary shit here and there but in the end for me, I guess staying true to myself meant a little more. I'm the type of guy who thinks with his heart not with his brain and that can get me hurt and then I can also assume too much and overdo it and over feel it and over everything it LOL, so I just stay away from the business side of things not because I don't want to do it; it's just because it's not me. I just try to do what I feel that's what I want to do. I'm not going to do what I don't want to do ever, I'd rather be homeless than do what I do not want to do. That's just the way that I am; I'm not trying to be different, I'm not trying to be against the system, and I'm not trying to be anything but me and like Bob Dylan said all I can do is be me whoever that is so we don't even know who the fuck we are; we're on some rock floating in space and we want to talk about you know; where we're going to live, how much money we got, how many people we killed, what crack I'm cooking right now, or whatever the fuck they talk about, but what are they pushing they're pushing? This weird narrative I don't get it but you know what to each his own. Everybody's free to express themselves the way they want to do it. I like some stuff; I like some trap shit sometimes. I don't really care; I like country, you know? I like rock and roll; I like every genre and I accept everybody the way they are for whatever it is. I don't know, you know what I mean? All I can do is speak my truth and I hope people gravitate to it and it helps them out in some way and if the money comes along, hey it's fine, but if it doesn't; it's not going to kill me. I've been here before, you know? I already know all this shit man.
You have been on Shady 45 a few times on Rap is Outta Control, how did that come about? What opportunities did that bring for you? Did you notice your listens go up and a wider range of other artists and producers that wanted to work with you more as a result of that?
I feel like everybody that knows me already knows me, but it's lonely at a certain level of doing this where you just put out mad music; it's not bad music. People are saying it's great music but the content is not what they're going to push, so whatever I say, whatever shows I go to, and whenever DJ Premiere spins something. At the end of the day; they already know but sometimes they're not going to say anything because their artists as well and they're protecting their brand and what narrative they're pushing. They can't have somebody coming with some type of truth that's going to crumble every little thing that they're working hard for. They're working hard to keep you in a place of being dumb and just being a consumer, that's all it is but in the end everything I just said might be a lie. I might be just assuming shit. I might be just making shit up. I don't know, all I can say is that's how it feels to me; that there's this bigger thing, this bigger plan in motion to make us feel like we're nothing but we're everything and that's the biggest fucking lie in the world.
You have such a way with the skills that you wield, your breaths in your songs command such emotion, the emotion projected into many of the songs you write, your cadence, breath control, lyricism, and just your overall gift to flow over music, it's mind-boggling. How long did it take you to focus to build these skills up? What was the motivating factor behind it? Was it worth it all in the end? What did you feel you sacrificed to create this gift within yourself and to make it as good as it is today?
The motivating factor for me was putting this pain that I felt into; poetry, into music, and to beats, and turning it into this thing of beauty because that pain inspired me to not want to feel that way. And everybody around me was; always in pain, always complaining, always negative, and always tense. I had to be alone in my room and to me the poetry was like a journal, so as I'm writing these feelings down; I start listening to these rappers later on in life and I realized that I would like to put those feelings over beats. I had to learn how to ride that beat but it takes years for this shit like THE RZA SAID you think you're going to become an MC overnight? It takes years for this. But when you love something; it's going to show eventually in your work, so it's like I didn't think about how long it took because I knew that with time once you plant a seed and you water it and you nurture it and you pay attention to it and you talk to it; it's eventually going to grow right? So I planted the seed and I'm giving it light. I'm I'm trying to express the inexpressible through music so that I can inspire others knowing that they know that I've been through my shit. And I'm not afraid to express that because in communication we can heal through that but we got to be honest about the scars, we got to be honest about the wounds, we got to be honest about what's going on inside; that's the only way to fix it. We need to address it; that's the only way to heal it. I sacrificed everything for it, because music is the only thing that truly understands me. I feel like maybe George Carlin, Bill Hicks, do as well as comedians. I love Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Green Day, Elton John, James Taylor. I just love music and I'll sacrifice it all over again. I might do my posture a little differently though LOL because it fucked me up really bad, but oh well it is what it is; like Charles Bukowski said, find what you love and let it kill you.
You have a big social media following, what do you use social media for? You seem to like to make your audience laugh and use it also as an open forum to talk amongst your peers who seem to have a lot of respect for you. Do you feel you are accepted by your peers? How do your peers make you feel and what have they helped you with along the way, within yourself, your pursuit of creative greatness, and how much does that mean to you? Do you give fans the same respect that you give to peers? How have fans helped you on your journey? How have they also made your journey hit walls or struggles at times? So many artists do everything for their fans and they can be torn apart by them or built to reach great plateaus because of them.
I always talk to my fans like friends, because I still can't believe that they're my fans. It just doesn't feel like I have fans. It feels like I have people that listen to my music and relate to it and then I guess that makes them a fan? But I don't like to look at them as fans; I like to look at them as family. A lot of my fans understand me more than my family members do. So whether they purchased the music or not, their friends anyway so they don't have to. If someone says they can't buy the music cuz they don't have any money; I'll just send them the music. I've had a few people that thought they were fans until I spoke my mind about things, and they feel a certain way about that so they're no longer listening to me or supporting me in any way. But I love that because I know that the true people that feel me can feel me and the ones that can't, can't and that's okay.
What was your aims behind working with such a high number of artists from all over the world? What do you feel you have built for yourself as an artist? What is some of the best advice you have been given over the years by all the people you have worked with? Have they ever been critical of your approaches and by doing so, you were able to get better from it? What are some of the greatest challenges you and your community have overcome while working together?
I just did whatever I had to do to create, more people reached out to me to work with them, because they saw that I was always working. So I guess that they knew that their projects are there, my verses would be turned in, and we'll see the light of day you know what I'm saying? And yeah I've had problems with artists, problems with fans, but that comes with it. Not everybody's going to love you, not everybody's going to feel you, and not everybody's going to understand you, you know what I'm saying? Not everybody can see your vision especially if you're a great artist. If you're a great artist, you're going to be lonely because not everybody's going to see that. Some people don't love it like I do. Some people ain't in the lab every single fucking day. Recording everyday, writing every single day, and making beats every single day. They're not worried about what anybody else says about it and not worried about whatever relationship got affected by it; I'm just constantly creating because I love music- I just love it. It's the only thing that fully understands everybody. Music is a universal language; music changes and saves lives. Music has been my religion forever and I love music.
You have talked and criticized the world for certain judgements and views in your music and on social media...what are some major things that you wish you could help change about the world? What has to happen in the world today for it to improve for all humanity? What do you feel will help achieve this improvement? How has your music helped you drive this change? Do you feel it consists of the message the world needs to open up their eyes to these much-needed missing aspects or way of life or whatever it may be?
I've been listening to a speaker/ Guru or whatever you want to call them, and for some reason I'm drawn to him so he says the world on the outside is the world inside you, and so did Alan Watts, which was somebody that I would listen to all the time. And even though it's hard to believe, I'm more aware of the fact that it's whatever is inside of me first that I have to deal with. So I don't want to blame the world or criticize the world anymore until I fix me and only then I can throw the stone but until then I'm not going to go get into that anymore. I actually left social media. I'm only using my messenger in order to keep in contact with you guys, but I haven't been posting I haven't been on social media. I like to take sabbaticals, I like to take breaks, and I like to switch it up a little bit.
What are you most happy about when it comes to your music? What have you felt personal gratification from when it comes to your style and what you have been able to create so far?
I like when people quote a rhyme I said, because it makes me go back and listen to the music from the outside looking in. When I listen to it by myself it's different for me because I'm going to hear all the mistakes and all the things I wish I would have said or done differently or whatever the beat is doing I might have used the same drums and I'm like paranoid, you know? But I'm so like hard on myself so I feel happy when people come to me and say my music has helped them, has inspired them, has changed them, and/or has saved them. Whatever it is that my music did for them that's my happiness that's gratifying for me because now I can go back and listen to my music and realize that there are people out there that do love and enjoy it. I can't be the only one to enjoy my art Picasso said the meaning of life is to find your gift the purpose of life is to give it away. And the last thing I'll say is to anybody that's going through whatever they're going through during these difficult times we have to be strong enough to know that being in this moment right here without thinking about what happened yesterday without thinking about what could happen tomorrow with us being here in this present moment together we can be without having to become. I'm working on it too, but in the end I'm just another artist in an ocean of creators and Master Builders traveling to an unknown destination with faith and fortitude during the darkest night of my soul, as I stand there face to face with death. I close my eyes and wear a smile almost as if to say it was worth the while.