Category Archives: Interviews

On the Rise: Interview with Detroit Producer Jupyter

Rap-3The city of Detroit has become undoubtedly infamous for its deterioration and high murder rates, yet its Hip Hop scene has managed to flourish over the past few generations.  Names like J DillaEminemBig Sean and now Dej Loaf have become synonymous with the area, but 19-year-old, Jupyter, is striving to join the list of aforementioned artists as a revered beatmaker.

Growing up a fan of the classic Funk record “Flashlight,” he was shocked when Parliament Funkadelic‘s Paul Hill revealed he was a fan of his work and immediately linked him with major names.  Now working with Jamie Foxx, the Grammy award winning Alicia Keys has even recorded to one of his tracks.  Influenced by everyone from Timbaland, Flying Lotus and Little Dragon, he has also had the opportunity to fly out to LA to meet with Nicki Minaj and Drake‘s manager.

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“Money, Powder, Respect” – Archived Interview with Pusha T (March 2013)

PushaT“I was in Paris two days ago, and I’m going back in two days. I would have never left had I fuckin’ not had this engagement,” Def Jam rapper Pusha T announces on the line dialing in from North Carolina.  

He’s eager to get back in the studio and finish up the solo album he has been vigorously working on with Kanye West.

“They tryin’ to keep me from leaking everything right now.  It’s taking too long.  I’m tired.  Let’s go!” he jokingly proclaimed in a recent interview with UK radio host DJ Semtex.  He’s been so hyped about releasing his new material that he has already been referring to it as the best album of the year.

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“When Dizaster Strikes” – Archived Interview with Rapper Dizaster (Jan 2013)

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In recent years, the art of battling has built an impressive following of Hip Hop aficionados around the world with freestyle king Dizaster becoming one of its most notable competitors. Co-signed by Drake, Method Man, Raekwon, Crooked I and Eminem, his almost flawless track record and knack for mercilessly ripping apart his opponents speaks for itself.

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With its raw edge and competitive grittiness the URL (Ultimate Rap League) has become the UFC of the rap game.  Trailers for upcoming bouts feature bellowing announcers who promote verbal sparring like Pay-Per-View matches.  It’s no surprise professional boxers and fighters tune into the matches as well.

“It’s just like fighting.  We say messed up things, but fighters beat the shit out of each other, and people respect them.  We don’t even hit each other. This is real grown-up shit. We’re not slapping each other around. We are defeating each other intellectually,” he declares.

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“High Off the Life” – Archived Interview with Ty Dolla $ign (June 2013)

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Wiz Khalifa sits on a bench meticulously rolling his weed when Ty Dolla $ign walks out to the patio dressed in all black.  Drinks are poured and cameras emerge as Karen Civil, Mario and industry elite walk through the Paramount Studio doors in Hollywood ready to hear Ty’s latest project, Beach House 2.  The album is introduced and heads bounce as club-friendly songs featuring Too $hort, Juicy J, Chris Brown and Trey Songz blare through the speakers of the studio and its adjacent rooms.

Ty Dolla $ign, the LA singer responsible for penning YG’s hit “Toot It and Boot It,” couldn’t escape the grasp of music if he tried.  With his dad a member of the R&B group Lakeside and an uncle in The Isleys, he remembers playing with his dad’s keyboard since the age of 3 and recording his first full track around the age of 10.  Using the early musical exposure to his advantage, Tyrone Griffin taught himself to play instruments like the drums, guitar, violin and the Wurlitzer organ.  

tydolla2Taking the name Ty Dolla $ign from his graffiti days, the 28-year-old singer was once part of duo Ty and Kory on Buddah Brown Entertainment and lived all over LA, Utah and New York.  He paid bills scoring films like Biker Boyz and The Cookout until he landed a deal with Atlantic Records in 2012.

Today, he writes his songs off the dome with the intention of composing “real music” consisting of true melodies, bass, guitar and keys.  
As both a writer and producer, he’s composed beats for Trey Songz and Kid Ink while repping his production crew D.R.U.G.S. (which consists of members like DJ Mustard and DJ Dahi).

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“Beats, Rhymes & Life” – Interview with Rapper/Producer G.L.A.M.

glam“Did that really happen? Oh my God. Like, I really got to meet A$AP and Bun B. I got to be in the cypher with them,” G.L.A.M. gushes over the phone about her debut on MTV’s RapFix.

After recently sharing a studio with Kendrick Lamar, appearing on “Sway in the Morning” and achieving rotation on MTV Jams with her “Mobbin'” video, it is safe to say that the 22-year-old rapper has been making waves in the vast sea of Hip Hop primarily commandeered by men.

glamkendrickUnlike most up-and-coming rappers of her stature, the Oakland MC is in genuine awe of her steadily budding career.  Though she was exposed to the music industry as a child playing with keyboards at her parents’ recording sessions and attending rehearsals, Nacolbie Jane had no desire to be an artist.  Her mother, rapper Nic Nac, toured with Ice Cube and her father, Dangerous Dame, was a member of Too $hort’s crew, but she denounced Hip Hop as a career and even looked down upon the genre.

“I didn’t think that Hip Hop was represented well. I didn’t think the content of what I heard at least at that time was something I wanted to be a part of, and I was just really conscious and biased on the matter until I started getting older and learning culture,” she explains.

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“The Future of the Chi” – Interview with Rapper Chi City

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Being kidnapped and walking past dead bodies on the stairwell of Chicago projects may sound like a scene from a late night crime drama, but it was the tragic and startling reality for rapper Chi City growing up on the South Side. Living on 45th and Drexel was an everyday struggle for Shantez Jackson, but he soon knew that he could turn his tragedy to triumph when he saw Lil’ Bow Wow’s “Bounce with Me” video. Realizing he could rap at the young age of 11, he constantly wrote much to the dismay of his mother who suffered from drug addiction and threw out his rhyme books.

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“She never wanted me to do music. She just felt like it wasn’t a real career.  That I had a better chance of doing something else,” the 25-year-old reveals on a bright autumn afternoon at The Golden State on Fairfax.  His wrist is decked with “Chi City” rubber bracelets as he speaks with an unwavering belief in himself that has undoubtedly been embedded in him since battling poverty. Blatantly defying his mother’s wishes, he invested his time entering talent shows and cyphers and was even contacted by Columbia Records after writing to the label.  By 17, he had expanded his skill set by producing, promoting local artists’ mixtapes and developing his own company On My Own Entertainment.

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“Higher Learning” – Interview with Rapper Devin the Dude

devin-the-dudeWhether grumbling about skyrocketing Cigarillo and gas prices on “Almighty Dollar” or the disappearance of weed after a party on the DJ Premier produced “Doobie Ashtray,” Devin the Dude has built a legacy for laying down mellow and relevant tracks since 1992.  Known for collaborations with Dr. Dre on the classic “Fuck You” and Andre 3000 and Snoop on “What a Job,” the Houston rapper has managed to become known as one of the rap game’s most underrated MCs.

As a former b-boy who listened to Slick Rick and Too $hort, the up-and-coming rapper sat by his radio every Saturday recording new songs off of college radio.  The frequent talent show contestant grew up idolizing Scarface, and after graduating high school, Devin Copeland was blessed with the opportunity to become a member of his group Facemob while also forming the Odd Squad aka the Coughee Brothaz. 

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After being hesitant about going solo, he decided to go through with the decision in 1998.  The MC, whose named derived from one of his favorite Quincy Jones albums, The Dude, was invited to join Rap-A-Lot records where fellow H-Town legends the Geto Boys were also notoriously signed.  

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“Aspiring to B’more in Cali” – Interview with Rapper E Major

e-major-outrageous-videoUnwinding after a long day of graphic design work at a law firm downtown, E Major sips on a well-deserved beer at LYFE Kitchen in Culver City.  Blessed with artistic ability, Ian Mattingly once planned on majoring in Art, but the Nas fan picked up a new medium once he realized he could paint pictures with words instead.  “Drawing is like a different way of seeing, and writing lyrics is like a different way of thinking about things,” the vegetarian explains dining on risotto.

Though the rapper could have easily remained complacent in Baltimore where his established career drew consistent praise from the City Paper for 2008’s Majority Rules and 2011’s Better Than Yours, he relocated to LA two years ago to expand his fan base.  The new father earned exposure performing at The Roxy when Evidence headlined, but unfortunately, the manager who booked his sets passed away.  Left in unfamiliar surroundings without solid connects, the rapper has not yet been embraced by Los Angeles’ Hip Hop heads, but he remains hopeful.

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His most recent project, Baltimore Bruin, originated in Maryland, but by the time the album was complete after the move to LA, it was clear the ideal atmosphere contributed to the evolution of its more relaxed and laid back sound.  

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“Intellectual Arrogance at Its Finest” – Interview with Rapper Wem

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Wemerson Oliveira’s childhood was everything but typical.  Instead of interacting with his peers on the schoolyard, he preferred staying after class to chat with teachers, principals and janitors.

Today, the 23-year-old enjoys listening to homeless people because it gives him a sense of completion.  “I feel that you can always grab a story from someone.  Someone out there in the world always has a perspective that you didn’t see.  Everyone has a story that you don’t know.  You have to learn from people.  That’s how you advance,” rapper Wem expresses.

At the age of four, his family emigrated from Brasilia, Brazil to the streets of Long Branch, New Jersey where he was forced to mature quickly often conversing with adults to help his parents overcome language barriers.  As a student, he was ostracized for being different, but found solace in journal writing at age 12. 

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He excelled in AP and Honors Classes later in high school, but enjoyed goofing off freestyling in the back of his wood shop class.  When a friend encouraged him to record, he was apprehensive about the cost of studio time and whether he’d have an audience, but recorded his first track in a bathroom after 152 takes.  Surprised by the decent results and response, he decided to make the $250 investment to buy a quality mic on eBay.

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