13th Annual Rap/Hip-Hop Album Winner
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Record Label: Self-Released
Home Base: Brampton Ontario, Canada.
Category Entered: Rap/Hip-Hop Album
Work Submitted: Miles To Go
Artists Featured: Shad, Mr. J. Medeiros, Ghettosocks, Die-Rek, Brotha Soul, NewBreedMC, RationaL, Sean Prominent, Fresco P
Who are your influences?: J Dilla, Alchemist, Pete Rock, Black Thought, Common, Phonte, John Legend
Describe your nominated work: A 14-track album. Entirely self produced, written, recorded, and mixed. It’s a diverse range of thoughts and emotions conveyed with an honest and soulful take on true school hip hop.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Logic is my DAW. I use it’s basic plugins and effects as the glue to keep the sounds I’ve selected in a nice little pocket. It’s the sound selection in these songs that make them unique and unusual. Less is more.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: I always make more songs than I need for a record, and write more verses for each song than I need so that I can pick and choose from them. The features that appear on the record are all personal friends of mine, and what they brought to the table were the most surprising elements.
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: This record was entirely funded out of my own pocket. Time was the real expense, which I will never get back. This is part of what keeps me adamant about pushing the record to as many people as possible. It’s my soul in the sound.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 13th IMAs?: The amazing response to the record both by Canadian and U.S. College radio, and fans/listeners alike has encouraged me enough to apply for awards like these.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: I am successful. I don’t say that in a cocky or arrogant way, but I believe success is more of a journey than a destination. I do what I love every day and get to share it with the world, receiving a positive response most of the time. When I’m not in the studio, I’m on the road touring and am surrounded by extremely talented and industry savvy friends who have helped me achieve many goals. I have a loving wife, and a son who has a heart of gold. If I fail to see this as success now, I will never find it. I have greater goals and ambitions, and want to see my music reach a lot more people, and that will be success too… just in a different place, and in a more evolved way.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: Having the IMA’s as a part of my resume is a great achievement. I am constantly learning new ways to use things like this to my advantage. Many times doors have opened for me because of similar accolades. The best thing to do is not forget this as an accomplishment, and proudly show it to others as I move forward.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: My fans always surprise me. Although I feel that my music is for an audience of the ages 20 – 35, my son who is 14 continually tells me of friends of his who love my music. I also hear this a lot “ I am not a fan of hip hop music, but your hip hop I really like “. I hope to continue to break the boundaries of demographics and social barriers with my sound and live performances.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: My guilty pleasure on the road is probably too much beer. I need to be careful with this, because after a certain point, money looses all value and my generosity knows no reasonable bounds. “everything in moderation.. especially moderation “ I can recall being pulled out of the way of traffic a few times by one of my friends at SXSW after having a few too many. Also, some random trouble with the dreaded “vapour lock” .. Where’s Joe Nameth when you need him?
Who are your musical heroes & influences?: Although it may not show very deeply in my music, I really love Phil Collins, Herbie Hancock, and Bob Marley. I admire the way Phil and Herbie are masters of so many different instruments, and tooks risks that make them unique. I love Bob because you can always hear his soul in his songs. Rakim and Black Thought are my 2 favorite emcees. Innovators. Game changers.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: I wish I wrote “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” Not sure why, but that one gets me every time… Even when Axle Rose sings it.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: Jahvinci, Gyptian, Movado and pretty much anything that DJ Loudmouth and DJ Kenny would play. See – Cultcha Invasion 14 mixtape, one of my favorites.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I have a number of DJ friends that put me on to new hip hop. I love taking in stuff on bandcamp and will buy it if I really dig it.
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: I think it’s different for each act depending on where they are in the level of their career. Things that will work for me now, wouldn’t have worked a few years ago. I still believe in labeling some of your product with a price, and giving listeners an option to pay what they want. It let’s people know that there is value in the product, and people appreciate that. It conveys a sense of being genuine. Having shows that pay, and selling merchandise are the most fundamental ways of earning for the modern artist.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: It seems like every year the fan’s understanding of how the industry works is growing and growing because information travels so quickly in today’s world. The politics of the music industry are a little more out in the open now. As an example, fans now know that artists with money can pay for the features they want on their records. This kind of nullifies what is supposed to look like a cohesive effort in the song. The audience sharing that used to come out of feature acts on songs doesn’t work as well anymore. This is why I only have features on my records from people I know and have relationships with. It seems to lend authenticity to the music, and helps rather than hinders. Unfortunately there is still the idea new indy artists have of “getting signed”, which much of the audience still thinks is a good idea. We now live in a DIY world when it comes to music, and learning how to get my records off the ground without a label has been the best thing for me, even though it took longer to get to where I am. Not to say I wouldn’t sign with a label, but I’m glad I have a better understanding of what a label can and can’t do for me based on my industry experience.
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: I think the audiences attention span isn’t what it used to be. So maybe EP’s are the future. But different things work for different people. I like the idea of doing full length albums because it gives me an opportunity to say more and paint a bigger picture. I like the idea of EP’s because they’re cheaper to do, and help to release projects sooner. They say “content is king” .. but if the content sucks, that statement means nothing. Taking time with music has and always will be the best way to go, now and into the future, regardless of the format.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is…not what I thought it was. From the inside looking out, my perspective has changed. Even from the time when I thought I knew what it was all about. .. err.. especially from the time when I thought I knew what it was all about. It is an ever changing and growing machine, with many moving parts. To be successful, I think it is important to have an ear to the ground, and take notice of the changes while they’re happening. This is the best way to stay relevant in my opinion. The music industry is… not based on talent like I used to think. Having a talent is as important as McDonald’s having a new specialty burger every few months. They will always have what you’re used to ingesting on the menu, and the new burger will either become a part of the main menu depending on how many sold, or make a come back every so often. Remember Mc Rib?? mmm. So talent takes back seat to tenacity, innovation, and compromise.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: I recently produced an EP with NewbreedMC who is a great rapper and song writer. I’m really happy with the project. I have also finished a record with Brotha Soul from NC that I’m excited to release under the group name “The Extras”. I have produced a number of songs for other acts like Thrust, RationaL, and MadeWade, which I’m equally as excited to see come out. I’m working on a record with producer/MPC pad masher Fresh Kils which is coming together nicely, also slated for a release later this year. Beyond all of this, I’m in the studio working on my own project, and doing my best to refine my live show to be the best I can be.