You’ve been dropping quality projects for the last few years. Do you feel like your work is starting to pay off?
Yeah. I’ve been doing it for 7 or 8 years now and really going hard with it for the last 2 years now. After we dropped New York State of Mind, we pressed up 5,000 copies and gave them away for free. It’s the same thing with Mood Swings. We’re not trying to make money off of it. We’re trying to get a nice buzz and establish a decent fanbase. We’re thinking about the future. Everybody’s thinking about now, now, now. I definitely think everything is falling into its place right now.
How did you approach your Mood Swings mixtape?
It’s funny. People say that they go up and down with their moods. Especially my girl. She’s so moody all of the time. I was going to do moody music and that was basically it. I locked myself in the studio. I probably recorded about 45-60 songs for that and me and my manager, we just sat down and went through every song. We picked it out and we mixed it down ourselves. We went through every track and made sure it sounded good and we got the project together. We got it out to DJ Big Mike and he did what he had to do and we pressed it up after that.
There are a lot of very personal tracks on Mood Swings, from your struggles growing up to navigating the music industry. How important was it to go beneath the surface on this project?
I wanted it to sound more like an album. I didn’t want to do songs where I was talking about drugs or how many people I killed or how many times I’ve been arrested. I didn’t want to give people the BS. There’s a lot of bullshit out there already. I just wanted to paint the picture and have them see what I’ve been through and what I’m going through. At the end of the day we’re all human and we all go through the same shit. We all gotta pay car notes and electric bills. It’s all the same bullshit. I just wanted people to relate to me more. That’s basically how I approached this project here.
You had a line on “Don’t Nobody Care” where you talk about websites that charge to post your stuff. How much does that piss you off?
Oh my God! It’s so crazy. Before these websites and DJs listen, they don’t even listen to your music and they send you emails back, “We’re charging this to get on.” What the fuck? You didn’t hear my music! I do respect the grind so if you’re charging, that’s not a problem. But you didn’t listen to my music before coming at me with what you’re charging. You didn’t listen to my music! I feel like it’s a waste sending out my music. I feel like I’m selling myself short. They’re just looking to get a dollar.
It’s so frustrating to get on a lot of these websites and it’s not just me. There’s a lot of underground, great artists that are going through the same thing that I’m going through. You know, everybody’s complaining about the music that’s out now, but when you do receive music that’s saying something, you don’t want to fuck with it. I don’t understand that. But I do appreciate you coming at me on some not-charging shit like a lot of these websites. It’s crazy. Every other website…it’s crazy. I’m not knocking them and I’m not trying to bring them down because at the end of the day, they have to get their money and do whatever they have to do, but listen to the music. Try to build a relationship with the artist and you don’t know how that artist is going to move in the future. If you charge him he’s not going to come back and fuck with you. It’s crazy.
Do you think it’s a good time to be repping New York right now?
I don’t think it really matters. I think it would actually be good because there’s not too many artists popping right now. But at the same time you do have some New York artists who are buzzing like Maino, Red Café and Fabolous is coming out. New York is still doing their thing. I don’t care, to be honest. I’m going to do my thing regardless.
Do fans have to be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or guardian to listen to your music?
(laughs) I just wanted it to be a catchy name and something that you’ve heard before. It’s a catchy name. There’s a DJ named Rated R and I get feedback off of that. There’s another Rated R down South somewhere. It’s a good and bad thing at the same time. The bloggers, that’s the first thing they say. “Isn’t there a DJ Rated R or another Rated R already?” I just think it’s funny. It’s funny as hell to read the comments of a lot of people. That’s the first thing they bring up. Either DJ Rated R from Canada or Rated R from down South. They got nothing to do with me.
Good thing you didn’t change your name to PG-13.
(laughs) That would be a bad look! PG-13! It’s crazy because right now we’re in the process of actually trying to do a name change. I’m going through other names and I’m actually thinking about keeping my real name, which is Josh. I’m thinking about just going that route. There’s a lot of things we’re playing with right now.
So this interview won’t matter because Rated R will be no more soon.
(laughs) Nah, nah, nah.
You had Big Mike host Mood Swings. How much does it help coming in with a big cosign on a project?
To me it’s huge because that’s what a lot of people go about now. It’s about how’s on your tape. None of my mixtapes have ever had any features on it because basically I’m not gonna come out my pocket and do features but having that cosign is a huge look because that’s the first thing somebody notices, especially when they’ve never heard of you. But if Big Mike is on your tape, that’s the first thing they notice. It opens people’s ears a little more since you got the cosign from an established DJ. It’s just overall a good look.
When you look at all the different ways to spend money as an up-and-coming MC, do you feel like rappers are targeted by websites, DJs and established artists?
I think so, to be honest with you. A lot of these artists do charge, which I don’t have a problem with, but I’d rather build what I’m doing from the ground and do it all myself and everything will fall into its place. Like getting on your site. I grinded for so long that you actually took time out to listen to my CD and I’ve been trying to get in contact with you forever. Everything happens for a reason.
I think if I continue grinding and these established artists that are buzzing right now, especially with the internet now, you don’t have to get in the XXL’s and The Source Unsigned Hype section no more. A lot of the stuff you can do on the internet yourself and establish that buzz and create that fanbase. I’m just staying consistent. That’s one of the first things you have to do. If somebody sees your name multiple times they’re going to want to see what your music is about and I feel like everything else will fall right into its place.
How do you plan to follow up Mood Swings?
We’re going to follow up with an EP. It’s going to be all original production and that one we’re trying to do like the iTunes and the Amazons and we’re actually going to try to make a little bit of money off of that. I’m recording songs and we have songs in the studio already that we can choose from. We’re going to follow that up with the EP. I’m not sure what the name of that will be. It might be God Understands Me. It’s not going to be as dark as the Mood Swings. It’s going to have that kind of music on it but I am a versatile artist. I can do club joints but it just depends on what mood I’m in. But it is going to have a little bit of everything on the EP.
Where do you want to be in the game a year from now?
A year from now I would like to put out that EP God Understands Me and just…That’s a good question. Just basically be established, never moving backwards, always moving forward. Hopefully do something with some distribution for this tape that I’m about to release and just keep grinding. Keep grinding. Keep going as hard as I’m going now and that’s basically it.