I’m feeling real good. You called!
What was it like growing up in Pittsburgh?
It’s somewhat of a grind, but it’s also fun because it’s a small city as opposed to a big city. It’s not too bad, man. Everyone knows each other. And I’ve been grinding and rhyming so long that I’m pretty much getting a lot of support at this point because people have seen my growth and development with this music, from production to lyrics to style to topics we’re dropping on now. It’s really a good support system in this city in general. Right now, I’m just trying to set up a lot more shows to promote this upcoming album The Art of Life.
You’re dropping a mixtape with HipHopGame for free download. Why go online with it?
I’m just looking at the community and just the people who are online nowadays as opposed to traveling and coming out to see shows. More people are downloading music now. It was the right thing to do. I’m looking at what sites are getting the most people and the most new music and I had to connect with HipHopGame and see where we could help each other in this. All the artists on HipHopGame, I’m feeling, from the artists coming up to the artists that are established. This is the place to be. God willing, we got together and we’re doing it now.
Is this mixtape a good preview of what your album, The Art of Life, will be like?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. Of course the mixtape has a different sound and there are more punchlines on it because I know that’s what people want to hear. There are a few well-known instrumentals on it. We’re showing the originality of myself and of Pittsburgh hip-hop music, because it’s not music that’s out there in the open right now. I had to keep it real to Pittsburgh and the sound of the city. I definitely think it’s a great preview to the album, although the album has more of a concept. The mixtape is more of a soundtrack to my upcoming DVD. But there are a lot of styles on the mixtape. It’s a whole different sound. When I listen to the mixtape, there is a whole different sound on it from the album. I think that’s important, especially for the people who want to hear something more uptempo and with more punchlines. Both are worth checking out.
How’s the album coming so far?
The album was just completed. We just went to mastering. I’m real pleased with it. We sat on it for awhile just because of different reasons, mostly time and scheduling between myself and my DJ, DJ Huggy, and our separate lives. We’re always together with shows and the recording. Sometimes it gets tight. The music just sat for awhile. I wasn’t even listening to the project. I was working on current music for the mixtape and things like that. A lot of it was kept in-house. While I’m recording new music, he’s still mixing my album and I’m not even aware of it. He’s adding instruments and a lot of things to the tracks. When I heard it recently, I was like, ‘Wow.’ It sounds like a whole ‘nother project. I’m just ready for everybody else to hear it. That’s all I’ve been pumping for the last couple of weeks. I don’t hear nothing like this out there right now. The few people that have heard it, it’s the same reaction. We’re trying to find new ways to get this out to the people.
Your single, “Up In Here” features Rah Digga and Lil’ Scrappy. That’s an interesting combination.
Oh yeah. A lot of people down here are definitely feeling southern music and have a southern influence in their own music. Of course a lot of people like Lil’ Scrappy. I was feeling him myself. A lot of songs that I do aren’t club-oriented, but he came off and I can definitely appreciate the style that’s on that single because you have three different styles. I think that’s what’s unique to that song itself.
Rah Digga, I respect her. When she got on the track, I was just like, ‘Oh, man. This album is going to be crazy!’ The single is definitely a dope track, whether you’re just listening to it at home or in the clubs. I definitely think the clubs are going to take to it. I’m just trying to get it in the DJs hands.
The Art of Life is dropping September 4. What do you have to do from here on out to make your album successful?
Just promote it and market it and put it in the right people’s hands. I have to put it in a lot of other peoples’ hands who are trying to work with new and up-and-coming artists. I’m looking for anyone who’s into a new style, new production and new ideas. This is new. I’m really getting back to the lyrics and I’m just bringing style back into the music. From newspapers to people with websites, I’m just reaching out to just about everyone who I feel is talented and who I feel are striving to promote themselves as well as my camp and the people who work with me, who are all hard workers.
What’s it like being on Good Hands Records?
That’s the family! I look at them as my foundation and my family. That was my beginning. That was people outside of Pittsburgh finally hearing about me. The whole deal happened through word of mouth when DJ Bbonics talked to DJ Truth at Good Hands. I was on tour with a few other groups. The first night I met DJ Truth, we rapped and I wound up spending the night with them and recorded in Philly. I met Chief Kamachi and Reef and State Store. Ever since then, we’ve since built a real strong chemistry. Next we banged out the Juju Mob’s Black Candles project. That was Chief Kamachi’s vision. We had to get together and bang that out. From there, I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me at the MySpace and everywhere else and told me how much they love not only the music but the movement. The Juju Mob is the streets and culture coming together. It really helped me as far as my craft and my mentality. It helped me look at hip-hop as an art and a business. It helped develop me into a better artist, just being around those three talented artists who are still doing their thing, even solo-wise. Everyone’s dropped an album since then. So it just shows you the progression and the attitude that these people have. We’re not going to stop until we see the success that we want to see.
Everyone else in the Juju Mob is from Philadelphia. Coming from Pittsburgh, did you have a tough time fitting in at first?
It was pretty natural. It was really natural. Chief Kamachi, Reef and State Store all have different styles, but they all have a common love for hip-hop. That’s really all you need to bond. No matter what else they have, it’s hip-hop at the end of the day. I was always comfortable. I never felt like I couldn’t do this or I couldn’t do that. They were real free with me being me and they were cool with me being me. It was real dope, man.
Are you guys working together on a new Juju Mob album?
Not at this time. We talked about getting together and getting some ideas. But as far as getting production and putting it all in motion, we haven’t talked about that. It’s a matter of timing and scheduling, but I’m sure it will happen. I told them I’ll come up to Philly whenever and they can come out to Pittsburgh whenever. I’m sure it will happen in the future. I think everyone needs to drop their solo projects and then we can come back and build on Black Candles Part 2.
You’re also working towards your Masters in Education. How’s that coming?
I’m in my last year at Pitt. I’m trying to get out. I’m a little low on money right now! That’s another thing. I’m trying to do this music and get enough money so I can graduate. From there, I’m thinking of maybe moving or something like that. But in the meantime, I’m just working right now and just building on this music and seeing where it can take me.
Master P has been urging artists to clean up their music. How do you feel about that in terms of the negative effects hip-hop music can have on kids?
I see the negative and positive effects of the music. It’s just that the negative parts are promoted a little bit more. Music is the most powerful energy on the face of the earth. No matter what you put in the music, you’re going to get that in return. I think it is the responsibility of the artist, as well as any leader, from teacher to preacher to anyone, to promote responsibility. I think a lot of hip-hop artists have become irresponsible with what they’re putting out in the world. They’re looking at it from a selfish and egotistical manner. You know people are listening to what you’re saying, so why say what you’re saying? They’re giving a misrepresentation because they’re not giving the whole side of everything. In my opinion, they’re not giving the whole sides. They’re maybe giving one side or two sides. We see in 3-D, so that’s what we should be expressing. That’s what I try to express in my music, the darkness as well as the light. I try to not dwell in either one for too long. I try to stand in that middle ground. I think that’s where most people dwell, in that middle ground. I’m just trying to touch people and relate to them.
What are your plans for the summer?
To talk to as many people as I can and get the project in as many people’s hands as I can, whether it’s on the internet, doing it hand-to-hand or getting on the Greyhound or going to the clubs. I just want to see where the project can go. I think it can go to a lot of different people and into a lot of different places. The album is called The Art of Life. Even saying that, I want to visit some art galleries and even see if we can do some shows. Put music back in its rightful place, and it is an art. I want to see how many artists from different genres take to the music and take to what we’re saying.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Just support. When you hear it, at least give it a chance. Check it out. We’re always creating and we’re going to have more coming up. We’re always going to have upcoming releases. Just check for the upcoming releases. Just look for them, whether it’s on my MySpace, HipHopGame or Good Hands’ site. Link me. Just let me know how you feel about the music. It’s appreciated.