Jacksonville Florida, not being an area really known for Hip Hop has definitely left some sort of footprint in the culture. When it comes to trap music (which basically carries the torch for Hip Hop in the current mainstream depending upon who you ask), there is quite a bit coming out of the region, artists like Nardo Wick, Foolio, YungeenAce, and SpotemGottem (to name a few). In the past, the club hit "Tootsee Roll" by 69 Boyz was introduced to the world in 1996. But it was Cash Money Records that brought a major influence to the area. It gave them a grittier and more street sound that fit this new generation a bit more comfortably.
Along came this dude (Eclyse) from Brighton and Hove, UK (East Sussex) and brought that Boom Bap slap from the East Coast to Jacksonville (to where he has lived for 8 years). It is very much different from the Southern sound which is all about money, women, and partying. Not to say that these topics don't exist in East Coast Hip Hop, but East Coast Hip Hop is more about the vibes and the lyrics. Not being chained by a focus other than showing how dope you are as an MC. The Boom Bap Hip Hop in the underground these days (I call it Neo Boom Bap), is much more unified and exists all over the globe because it is much harder to find the ears that are willing to listen to it, so they release it using producers from all over the world. This brings more ears, but it is really more confined to people's inner circles and smaller audiences that an artist is able to capture through shows and features.
I hope all underground Neo Boom Bap artists all open up more doors by pushing their local areas and conducting shows. Hopefully this will create more Hip-Hop Heads for the future so everyone in this generation and the next can truly hear the power behind Boom Bap Hip Hop.
How many projects is that now? 23 in total? I know it is something like that. You really live that Hip Hop life, you're honest about your struggles and where you came from. How was Hip Hop with alcohol and drug abuse? What makes it different now that you don't lean on those substances anymore? How has it changed your approach? Do you think that you would be this engaged with Hip Hop if it wasn't for these struggles?
So far I've dropped 24 projects including the AIM Crew album with my homies Ginsing & Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha, and the project I dropped with Mike Martinez earlier this year. The first 2 projects I released aren't online anymore, you can hear my lack of confidence, my struggle with my flow and the bars aren't as complex or thought out, they're cool to go back to and see how far I've come though. Plus I was using a laptop, $60 USB Mic from Best Buy and recording in my closet. Me & Skinny are dropping a new album at the end of the month and I'm also working on 3 other projects as we speak, I'm busy this year.
Honestly I still have the same love for Hip Hop now that I don't drink or do drugs but ever since my symptoms from quitting have got better the amount of creativity, inspiration and motivation is overflowing out of me, it's amazing how much the strength of my love for it has grown. I come up with better lyrics and have been focusing on different styles of beats to experiment with. I'm able to look at myself differently plus gain more experience from life now that I am more aware of what's going on and not fucked up and disassociated 24/7. I can actually appreciate life and music more and in return that brings more power to my creativity and opens up infinite possibilities to it as well. I think it is easier for me to write about how I feel because of what I've been through and the fact that I made it out alive through all that madness, honestly I'm lucky to be alive. It gives me more insight into what other people may be going through and hopefully I can inspire someone or help someone through hard times from listening to my music and knowing that they aren't alone in their struggles and pain. If I even help one single person through their day by listening to my music then that is a huge success for me. I'm not in this for the money, it's all about the love of the art and spreading it around for everyone to enjoy. I took my pain, hate, anger, negativity and channeled it with my lyrics, I write bars all day in my phone, they never get used. It's literally therapy for me. If I am going through some shit my 2 ventilation processes are meditation and writing rhymes, nothing else eases my mind as much as those. I also want to help people through their hard times, I know someone somewhere can relate to what I'm saying, I want to reach those people the most. It's great being able to hear how people word experiences and struggles, so if someone thinks of something differently and in a positive way because of me then my job was done well. I tend to write about some dark and eerie shit but if you really listen to the words I'm saying and dissect the metaphors there's a meaning and some form of insight to take from it all. Shit, I listen to my own music sometimes when I'm having a bad day, you gotta remind yourself of the things you practice when negativity pushes you away from these practices, it's easy to get lost in the matrix of it all. Music is my therapy, my meditation, my main love in life and it's the reason I am here doing this interview with you. Music is my life, I have that shit tattooed on me.
How has your locale influenced your Hip Hop? Jacksonville pumping out south style rap like Nardo Wick, where do you fit in? Is boom bap relevant in Jacksonville or is it better to just build a global underground community?
Florida is basically anyone's paradise so it is truly an inspiring place to live. Being by the beach and living in such a fun place it makes it a great place to make music. I just need to work harder at creating a scene out here, it was never a goal of mine while I was using drugs and alcohol because I had no goals. But now that I've got my shit together and got my head on my shoulders I'm going to work harder and spread the real Hip Hop around my area. To be honest Jacksonville doesn't have much of a Hip Hop scene. I've lived here roughly 17 years and I could count on one hand how many Hip Hop heads I've met in that time period. Not to mention we rarely get any kind of Hip Hop shows coming through. It's mainly further South where the scene is, like Orlando and Miami. With that being said, I do keep my focus more on spreading the music globally. It just seems to make more sense with how much more people love Hip Hop outside of where I live. Most of my listeners come from other countries anyway so I aim towards reaching those people over the ones in my own city.
I think the underground artist has work to do in the underground community by pushing it in their local area to help build the global influence. How do you feel about that particular aspect? You are apart of the crew, Voodoo Docterz and also the crew Artistry In Motion. What are the aims of each group and how did you first get involved with them. How have your crews help elevate your music?
There isn't much opportunity here in Jax with how almost nonexistent the scene is but I still aim to create something here soon. I would love to get some sort of Hip Hop meet up type thing going on here where people can connect and build with each other. The idea is there but I just need to expand the details of what I would want to do and build from there. Hopefully once my health gets better I can focus more on that. For now I really only have the energy to make the music.
Artistry In Motion came about from me, Ginsing & Skinny talking about making a few tracks with me and Gin spitting and Skinny producing and naturally a project was created. Us being such close homies, even tho we all live in different parts of the world, it only made sense to create a trio and make an art piece. Our goal was to just have fun with it and blend all of our skills and talents together to create a project from all of our different standpoints and experiences. I'm hoping by next year we can drop another AIM Crew project if the squad is down.
I came to be a part of Voodoo Docterz from linking with Skinny on Facebook. We linked up to do a track with me and my homie Glad2Mecha. I think I wrote and recorded my verse in like 20 min and sent it back to Skinny. Shortly after that we dropped the track and Skinny invited me into the group, we had already been working on our Nearvana EP before I was part of the group. The collective is made up of 15 of us including producers and MC's from different countries. Everyone has their own skill and style they bring to the table which is what makes the VDZ Crew so unique and well rounded. I actually have 4 VDZ members featured on my new album with Skinny so keep ya ears peeled for that drop at the end of April.
I've done an interview with Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha and I never asked, is there a total crew album (Voodoo Docterz)? If so, where can we find it? If not, is there any plans to make one? I've looked for one around the crew's pages and haven't found one. Don't you think that would be dope? If no one's talked about it, I'm here right now talking about, make it happen haha...
It's quite possibly perfect timing that you brought this up ha. Early last year we dropped a single called "For The Family Brand" which got a lot of love, but with having so many members and each one being from a different state or country you can imagine how hard it is to get everyone to come together and make music. We are all constantly featured on each others projects and always working together in some way or another. But recently there has been some talks of an album and there has definitely been some fire that has been created so far. I can't say much else but there absolutely will be a VDZ album in the near future.
You are very involved on social media, what is the importance of social media to what you are trying to do? What is lacking from these platforms that would really help you reach the audience you wish to reach? I've been a big supporter of Hip Hop and social media and I believe if all the dope artists in this Neo Boom Bap artists came together and formed a focused community, I think record companies would never be in the forefront when thoughts go towards heavy monetization.
Nowadays I feel like social media is the best way to spread your music and be heard. Now obviously performing and touring is a must if you want to become famous and make money off of it. To be honest if it weren't for social media I may not have ever made a single song. I met my homie Glad2Mecha on Facebook around 8 years ago and he taught me the ropes. From flow, to counting bars to copping the right equipment and softwares to use to record. If it weren't for him, I'd never be where I am today so I am eternally grateful for him taking me under his wing and becoming my Sensei in a sense, ha.
It's almost impossible to get heard unless you spend countless hours reaching out to people and spreading your music to as many people as you can. I agree with you completely, we all need to come together and create some sort of Hip Hop platform where everyone can talk, build and connect with one another to create a community in this underground scene we all know and love. These Facebook groups and shit are pointless, especially since there is no engagement in them whatsoever. It's either word of mouth or get out on the stage and spread it like that.
Speaking of monetization, what do you do to make yourself profitable in the music you make or you mostly do it for yourself and not worry about the money aspect of it? I know it is hard to make money in the underground, especially when Boom Bap is not apart of the "meta" of commercialized music. If you aren't an established legend, it's a struggle to put together a tour without the money.
I started making music for the love of it and its therapeutic effect on me. I am only in this for the love of it. I don't care about getting paid for it, that's not my goal. Don't get me wrong, I love when someone buys my music it's an amazing feeling but it isn't why I make music, that's just a plus. The love and support I receive from people is enough of a profit for me. Any compliment or feedback I get is well worth the time and money I put into this craft. Anytime someone's day is improved by listening to my music I feel I have accomplished something. Music is a language, and it is a universal love that we all share. It is one of my favorite things about life, it is an unstoppable force that creates such joy and love within people and brings so many of us together that I could not see it any other way than creating it for my love of it. I listen to music 24/7 and nothing makes me happier than digging for new music or listening to what I already know and love. Honestly I spend 10 times more money making music than I receive from selling merch or CD's, but I'm not worried about it, half the time I just give away CD's or downloads for free. I'd rather people enjoy it and get to experience it than forcing people to buy it to listen to it. Music is made to be heard not kept from people because you only care about the money. If someone asked me for all my albums for free because they want to hear it, they can have it all for free, as long as it makes them happy and helps them through something, I'm all for it. It's all peace and love when it comes to music, that's what it's all about.
Everybody who does boom bap style music right now does it for the love of it. What made you fall in love with making boom bap style Hip Hop music? Is there any other aspects of the culture that you partake in such as graffiti or dancing? Do you have an image that you project when you perform on the stage or do you just stick to what you normally wear in your everyday life? Fashion is a big part of the culture as well and what does your fashion sense bring to the culture? What's the most important aspect to the culture to you and why?
Yea I actually started writing Graffiti before I started rapping. I always used to write rhymes but never got serious about spitting anything until years after me and the homies would go out tagging and drawing shit in our notebooks for hours. I kind of strayed from the Graffiti aspect until recently getting back into sketching my name again, I went by Scóp. I've always been into drawing, but I mainly focus on drawing trippy art or horror themed art, that's what I'm mostly into and where my mind takes me in the drawing aspect of things. Since I've gotten back into Graffiti, I'm definitely going to keep at it and get better with it. I never got into breakdancing because of my back and neck problems but I can fucking break it down if I need to lmao.
Honestly I have never performed before. Out of the 8 years I've been making music, 7 of those I was wasted or out of my mind on drugs so I never had the time, energy or drive to perform. Now that I'm in recovery my goal is to work towards performing in the near future. I have still been going through quite a lot of stress, anxiety and depression from quitting drugs and alcohol cold turkey. It isn't really the safest way to quit but at the time it was my only option otherwise I probably wouldn't be alive right now. So, for now I am just focusing on my health and trying to make it through each day. But every day I am improving and discovering the person I lost with so many years of substance abuse. One day I will walk on the stage and show whoever is there what I've got. Until then I'm gonna keep cranking out music for y'all to enjoy.
Is there any mainstream and/or artists you really look forward to hearing a new project from nowadays? What is it about them that you gravitate towards? Does it help inspire a new aspect inside yourself?
I spend countless hours listening to all kinds of music, I listen to pretty much every genre that exists, even sub-genres of music. Hip Hop, Reggae Metal, Jazz, Punk & EDM are my main loves, they're what I grew up listening to so I usually dissect those ones the most. I will never confine myself to any kind of music, if it's good I'll listen to it no matter the genre. In terms of mainstream Hip Hop, I don't listen to too much. A few off the top of my head are anyone in TDE, J. Cole and a few of his signed artists like Lute, JID & Earthgang, Jay-Z, Tobe Nwigwe, Joey Bada$$, TechN9ne, Freddie Gibbs, Vince Staples, cats like that in terms of mainstream. But I'd much rather spend my time finding new Underground Hip Hop and Metal.
In terms of artists I look forward to hearing new music from, there is plenty. ill Conscious, Supreme Cerebral, Code Nine, Lee Scott, Epidemic, Tha Soloist, 38 Spesh, Planet Asia, Daniel Son, Eto, Willie The Kid, Cambatta, Evidence, Kota The Friend, Rigz, the list goes on. Way too many more to name but those are off the top of my head. Everyone I listen to inspires me, doesn't matter the genre, everything I listen to inspires me to create more. I like artists that are genuinely honest and real with their music, I gravitate more towards people that lay their entire lives out for you to hear, experience, gain advice and wisdom from. I want to be able to picture everything they're saying in my head like it's in front of my eyes. I want to have to think and dissect people's lyrics, to feel something when I'm hearing them. Obviously I'm always down for some rowdy meaningless hype music every now and then but in general it's about how the lyrics make me feel.
Where is the biggest audience for your music? Is it local or is it somewhere else? What do you think is a good strategy that you use to grow your audience?
My biggest audience is England, France and the US. Mainly NYC, Chicago & California in the states. Honestly the best way for me is just reaching out to blogs, radios, and listeners and spreading the word. I always include my entire project for free when promoting it and reaching out to such people. Nowadays with everyone having such easy access to making music its very hard to get heard as everyone is rapping, but best you can do is be real with people, keep it genuine and have real conversations with people. I'm not gonna just hit cats up and not see how they're doing or what's going on with their day, I'd rather build relationships with the people that support my music. That way it feels like there is more purpose in the relationship than just trying to get something out of them, more two-sided than just me asking for them to post my music and leaving it at that.
You have some real depth inside your lyrical delivery, who is your main influence and how long did it take to hone your craft? "I'm in Salem's coffin, smoking blunts with Satan's offspring", great line depicting living with your inner demons. It's lines like this that you draft up that really makes your music interesting because you never know what will come next in your metaphors and similes. It's a true gift that you wield. Do you smoke a lot of blunts during your writing process or do you do it sober?
First off thank you brotha, I really appreciate the kind words! My main influences growing up were Wu-Tang, BlackStar, Company Flow, Kool G Rap, Binary Star, Leak Bros, Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, MF DOOM, CunninLynguists, Gang Starr, Necro, Big L, KRS-One, The Roots, O.C., I could go on for days. I didn't get into Hip Hop until around when I started high school. I usually just wrote rhymes while I was at home, cyphers at the crib or me and the homies would spit bars back and forth on AOL messenger, yea mad throwback ha. I started making music about 8 years ago and I am still improving, it seems to be a never-ending journey to honing my craft.
I don't smoke until I've finished writing or recording. I'd rather be on top of my game and energetic when working. I spark up after I finish, it's like a mini celebration. 90% of my music I made on drugs, and it didn't prevent me from making good music, it just prevented me from appreciating the process and the experience of the creation. Honestly I think a good amount of my thought process when writing comes from all the psychedelics I've done, they had a big influence on how my brain conjures up the bars I create. If you've dabbled in such substances, you'll know how creative your mind becomes. Writing is a meditation for me so I dive real deep into the depths of my mind when writing, it's almost a psychedelic trip in its own. A trip through a mysterious world that only I can enter, where reality and dreams coincide with each other. Where nightmares and dreams fight on a battlefield of endless abstract creation. A mind trip you could never think of until you hear my music. I'm sure people can tell I reference a lot of horror and dark material, it's where my mind dwelled for decades so it's only natural I lean towards the darker sides of life. I also go where the beat takes me, if it's a more chill relaxed beat I'm gonna talk about the same sort of thing. Same with a hard, gritty & rugged beat, I'm gonna spit some dirty fucked up bars if that's how the beat makes me feel. The beat is basically my shrink, so I speak to it as if I'm unloading all my pent up shit I have inside, which I basically am. I spend a lot of my time at the beach pondering life so sometimes I just write rhymes while listening to the waves crash, and the birds chirp. Every now and then I'll incorporate some of those bars into a song once I've got the beat. If it fits it fits, but for the most part those rhymes stay in my notebook as practice writing and I go back to them if I need ideas or inspiration. The world is my canvas for inspiration.
What do you do outside of Hip Hop and how does that help the whole overall process? How much of a struggle is it to get the money to pump out each project? How much times does it take for you to be generally satisfied about an album or an EP? What has to happen for this to happen in it whole entirety?
Outside of Hip Hop I'm really into art, photography, nature, travel, things like that. I've been drawing ever since I could pick up a pencil, after I quit drinking I got back into sketching and painting and have been honing that craft pretty well. Photography has always been a passion of mine as well, I shoot cityscapes, portraits, nature, bandos, horror themed shoots, basically anything you can think of, I'll shoot it. I always wanted to be an actor and since that never worked out, doing themed photoshoots is the closest I can get to creating a movie or movie scene. Once Halloween comes around I get wild with the horror shit. I'm very into being in nature, exploring different parts of the world and just discovering new places. All of these things take me outside of my mind and my comfort zone and in return bring inspiration and ideas for my lyrics. I rap about what I've been through, where I've been to, and my life experiences. Listening to my music is like experiencing my life through words.
When I first started out, I tried to get as many dope features as I could thinking I'd get noticed overnight, that ain't gonna happen for anyone. Nowadays I mainly work with people that want to build and collab and not just focused on the business side of music, I'm doing this for fun. There are plenty of producers I buy beats from that I'll keep working with because they bring the sound that I'm always looking for. Cats like Brutal Caesar & BoFaat, they produce banger after banger. I got homies like Skinny, Ginsing, Bizi, Jay Oracle, The SOULution, A Dusty Cinema, Paul G.O.D., we all just build and create with no money in mind. It depends on how many tracks I want on the album, for a full album I usually spend 5-6 months creating tracks for it, but an EP I try to knock out in a month or 2 depending on how busy life is at the time. This year I'm aiming for at least 6 projects to be released. I just spoke with a homie about another EP too so at this point if it all works out, I'll drop 7 this year.
When I talked to you last, you were off to a show, now did you perform at this show? How often do you perform and when will be your next performances? What is your favorite part about performing and what is most important to you about performances? Do you find it easy to connect with the crowds and what do you do to connect to them? What do you feel works the most?
Nah I didn't perform at that show, it was a metal show, I go to a couple a month, our metal scene is fucking dope down here. If there was another genre I could make it'd def be some heavy as fuck metal to get wild to. As I mentioned before I haven't performed before but it's definitely a goal of mine. My memory has been nonexistent since sobriety so I want to rebuild that before I get myself on stage, I don't want to start forgetting lyrics for my first performance. It's hard to remember lyrics when I've made 100's of songs since I started rapping, a lot of the bars just blend together. But one day I will get on that stage and pour this art out of my brain for the world to experience.