After a long struggle, rapper Scribes emerged to beat the odds and drop a very polished encore to his sizzling debut, Sleepwalk (2007). What Was Lost – a title suggestive of the album’s arduous conception – features a renewed commitment to Scribes’ hip-hop roots that does not disappoint. The album, released February 2nd, represents a significant revival for the Seattle rapper, and offers a more contemporary depiction of the artist, who’s approach has certainly adjusted and developed in the years since his debut.
What Was Lost comes off as being less politically involved than previous releases (EP Summer Sampler 2009, and the revolutionarily charged Sleepwalk), but in it’s place Scribes has portrayed a more personal image – running the gamut from brooding and dejected, to even quite fun and celebratory.
The following is part two of a two-part interview I did on March 12th with Scribes at his workplace (Wilcox Boxing), in which he tells the story of how his album was stolen just weeks before it’s release, the road he took to re-recording and releasing What Was Lost, and also, what was gained along the way.
After a long struggle, rapper Scribes emerged to beat the odds and drop a very polished encore to his sizzling debut, Sleepwalk (2007). What Was Lost – a title suggestive of the album’s arduous conception – features a renewed commitment to Scribes’ hip-hop roots that does not disappoint. The album, released February 2nd, represents a significant revival for the Seattle rapper, and offers a more contemporary depiction of the artist, who’s approach has certainly adjusted and developed in the years since his debut.
What Was Lost comes off as being less politically involved than previous releases (EP Summer Sampler 2009, and the revolutionarily charged Sleepwalk), but in it’s place Scribes has portrayed a more personal image – running the gamut from brooding and dejected, to even quite fun and celebratory. The following is part one of a two-part interview I did on March 12th with Scribes at his workplace (Wilcox Boxing), in which he tells the story of the road he took to releasing What Was Lost – and also, what was gained along the way.
Dance With The Devil. If those words do not bring to mind the powerful and captivating lyrics of underground rapper Immortal Technique, then you obviously need to do some research. Felipe Andres Coronel, better known as Immortal Technique, is one of the best rappers in the game right now. While some rappers spend their money on luxurious living, I.T. actually uses money he receives from his albums to help children in Afghanistan, create grant programs for high school students and speak to young adults that are in prison. In the vein of rappers KRS-One, Chuck D and Zach De La Rocha I.T. delivers a message that not only addresses current problems, but does it in such a way that you feel the song on a much deeper level.
Da Circle which consists of Fatz D’ Assassin and Goodtime Slim, are also rappers that you definitely need to check out. Hailing from the streets of NYC Da Circle has been around for awhile. Starting out as The Usual Suspects with six members, Da Circle eventually became the duo that it is now, and a loss of members has not slowed them down. Working with people such as Poisen Pen and I.T., Da Circle obviously is someone to know about.
Both signed to Viper Records I.T. and Da Circle were representing their label throughout the whole week of Austin, Texas’ SXSW 2011 music festival. Taking a break out of their crazy schedule both groups talked to me about their music, the SXSW atmosphere, future plans and other things.
Mohammad Dangerfield which consists of rappers Rugged N’ Raw and Hasan Salaam are performers that you should definitely know about. Both have received critical acclaim for their independent work, and for their work as Mohammad Dangerfield. Working with the likes of U-God of Wu-tang Clan, Brand Nubian and Consequence, Mohammad Dangerfield keeps things fresh while also working with those that have paved the way for artists like themselves.
Signed to Viper Records Mohammad Dangerfield shares the same label as underground heavyweight rapper Immortal Technique and rap duo Da Circle. Mohammad Dangerfield embarked on multiple tours in 2010 and performed during Austin, Texas’ SXSW 2011 music festival. Along with touring, the group’s self-titled album was released February 22, 2011 to positive reviews.
During SXSW’s festivities I had the opportunity to talk with Mohammad Dangerfield about SXSW, the music they make, working hard to achieve success and influences.
After a five-Year hiatus, Ron Contour chose to get rid of his bee colonies and come back to the music industry. “What kind of MC keeps bees,” said Contour.
With intent to never leave the game again, Contour has proven that he’s dedicated his time to making quality music with his new album, Saffron, which is produced by Saskatoon-based producer, Factor. Contour and Factor have been praised for having great chemistry on the album and with hits like, “Glad” and “I Only Know,” there’s no denying that. Whether you prefer relaxing at home or a night out on the town, this album has something for everyone. Adding to the catchy beats, clever lyrics and perfect melodies, Contour made the conscious decision to keep the album short, ensuring not to lose the attention of his listeners.
In a little over a month of his album release, Ron Contour spoke exclusively to MVRemix about Saffron, why he chose to come back, his personal feelings about the industry and his new projects.
Ron Contour Interview
by Terri-Ann Thomas
MVRemix: Congrats on the new album, first of all.
Ron Contour: Thank you very much.
MVRemix: Why the name, Saffron?
Ron Contour: I was thinking yellow when I made the album. Usually a title pops into my head and that sparks the theme and then the music follows. It could have been called, Noodles and Soup, you know what I mean? I don’t feel the title is so important; it’s just like a picture.
MVRemix: So, is yellow your favorite colour?
Ron Contour: No, I hate it.
MVRemix: You were introduced almost ten years ago.
Ron Contour: Yeah, my cousin [Moka Only] introduced me to the industry. He brought me in, so, here I am.
MVRemix: How have you changed since then?
Ron Contour: I think it’s more so, lyrically. I use to be a little more out there. I think my stuff is pretty normal now. Lyrically, I used to be pretty out there, painting a fantasy with words, if you will. Nowadays I just rap about reality, you know what I mean? Like, paying a bill. Normal stuff.
MVRemix: And you left the scene for a while, right?
Ron Contour: Yeah, I left the scene just after 2000. After I put out the debut album and stuff, nothing was really shaking, you know? I got a really crummy deal with that first album. The record label actually disbanded and went bankrupt, so I just wanted to focus on personal aspects of my life, like girls and beekeeping and whatever, stuff like that.
MVRemix: What convinced you to come back on the scene?
Ron Contour: My cousin [Moka Only] got me back into it. It always comes back to him; he’s the one that’s always doing everything. I mean, he’s probably the busiest guy in hip-hop as far as releasing albums. I just saw that and it inspired me. I said, “Oh my God, this guy is coming out with another album?” And what have I done? I’m beekeeping, you know? What kind of MC keeps bees? I had three [bee] colonies and I got rid of them and came back out to the coast and started working with Moka again.
MVRemix: I like that you say you don’t care what people think of you and you’d be a proud C-lister. Does that help with making good music?
Ron Contour: Yeah, I really don’t care, I mean, if you’re an artist, you’re gonna do it because you love to do it, not because it pays your mortgage or buys you a lot of Twinkies, you know? People are entitled to have their own opinions, so it’s whatever you want. I know what I want, that’s why I’m gonna keep doing music [and] this time I’m not gonna go away. This time I’m really a problem.
MVRemix: Tell us about the album cover.
Ron Contour: Oh, it’s nothing, that’s just a cell phone shot of me just goofing around. There’s nothing deep to uncover there really.
MVRemix: Who have you worked with on this album? Is it just one other artist on the album?
Ron Contour: Ok, here’s the story with that. Usually with most of the releases I put out, Moka Only has produced them. He seems to be the in-demand beat maker right now, but I wanted to spread my wings [and] he encouraged me to do that. He hooked me up with this cat that he worked with before named Factor. So, Factor actually did all the beats on the album. And there’s only one other guest on it and that’s Def3, he’s from the Canadian prairies.
MVRemix: What was it like working with him? [Def3]
Ron Contour: It was great; he’s a wonderful character. He’s a great dude and again he’s someone I met through my cousin [Moka Only]. My cousin did an album with Def3 in 2006 called, Dog River. I’m telling you man, my cousin don’t sleep. That guy has put out 50 albums.
MVRemix: Yeah, he’s great.
Ron Contour: Yeah, and he’s also handsome.
MVRemix: I’ve read some album reviews and they said you and Factor have really good chemistry, what was it like working on the album with him?
Ron Contour: It was the type of chemistry, basically where we didn’t even have to talk. You know? He’d start to do a beat and he’d say,” Hey, what do you think about it?” And I’d be like, “Shut up! Don’t talk, I’m trying to write.” Then he’d try to say something again and I’d slap him or whatever and then he was cool, you know? Once he accepted the abuse and just quieted down, then I could just focus on writing the rhymes. I’m joking, but really, he doesn’t talk much and I don’t even really like to talk. He’d start to work on a beat and I’d say, “What do you think about going in this direction?” And I like to write pretty random, I think I’m a kind of a random guy, you know? So, we tried to reflect that in both the music production on the album and with the lyrics too.
MVRemix: Why was “Glad” chosen as your first single?
Ron Contour: I thought it was the most commercial and catchiest. And I could probably sucker people into giving me their money. Just to be honest. It just spoke to me, sometimes you just know, when you put together an album, you just know what should be the introductory track that might make people feel a sense of intrigue, or indigestion or whatever.
MVRemix: Tell us about the video. Was it your idea to do a “Harry and? the Hendersons” kind of ending?
Ron Contour: We kind of freestyled the video, to tell you the truth. The video producer, Stuey, that’s his method, basically he doesn’t write a treatment, he doesn’t write a storyboard, he basically has some props available [and] it sort of just develops throughout the day. He had a costume available for the Sasquatch, but as far as the story line, it sort of just fell into place, you know? Ran into a couple people, picked them up and let the cameras roll [and] had some fun with it.
MVRemix: Is that how you go about all of your videos?
Ron Contour: I haven’t done many videos, I’ve done like three total, so it’s still sort of a new thing to me. I’m not even really that comfortable in front of [the] camera. In case you’re curious, that’s why I wear artificial mustaches, no the mustaches aren’t real.
MVRemix: Yeah, I was going to say that next. I like the mustache in the video, is that here to stay?
Ron Contour: Until I start to become more comfortable, you know what I mean? I think the mustache will stay; people seem to like it. Maybe I’ll grow an actual real mustache. If you look at the album [cover] that’s a real mustache that took like a year to grow, I’m not very hairy.
MVRemix: So since you’re not very comfortable in front of the camera, does that mean we’re not going to be seeing any more videos from you for a while?
Ron Contour: Oh no, you definitely will. I actually just filmed two more videos. I mean, I realize it’s something that has to be done, because with the way the music industry is nowadays, visuals are very important. It’s more important than anything. Word-of-mouth, that’s the old model, but now with multi-media and [the] Internet, you have to have the videos. You have to have something to show people, to bring them a sense of what you’re trying to create.
MVRemix: What are the two other videos you just filmed?
Ron Contour: One of them is a video from the album, The Beach, which I put out last summer. That video is called, Radiant. The other video is like a homemade style video and it’s called, Curb Cadillac, which is talking about skateboards. ‘Cause I’m probably the only rapper that really skateboards. Skateboarding is good for you, skateboarding and smoking.
MVRemix: Are you one of those artists that like to have a video for every song on the album?
Ron Contour: I wish I could, but you know, budgets only go so far. Then, directors are kind of hard to narrow down too. Directors are artists basically, so they’re just has flaky as us musicians. [You think] we’re terrible man, the directors are just as bad.
MVRemix: You can videotape yourself though.
Ron Contour: Yeah, and the Curb Cadillac video, that was me taping myself. It doesn’t really look that professional when you [do it yourself], you need a professional, you know? I think content is important no matter what, but I would rather have some nicer looking videos.
MVRemix: What’s the most important thing you want people to know about this album?
Ron Contour: That it’s short. I want people to know that it’s short and if they want more, then I’ll make some more. That was actually a criticism, I heard a lot of people like, “Woah, it’s only a half hour.” What do you expect, when everybody is so stupid and their attention spans are so short? If I was to make it an hour or whatever, everybody would be like, “Oh, it’s too long, he’s not rapping about anything but food.” Well you know what? I like food! To tell you the truth, if I didn’t eat food, I’d probably die. I’m gonna rap about food whether people have a problem with it or not. I like food, I like all kind of food, you know? I don’t care, that’s my content, you know? Everything else is just done, the whole selling coke in your raps and all that, you know what I’m saying? Trying to be so hard, it’s done. So I’m gonna rap about food, that’s what I like.
MVRemix: Yeah, and it goes back to you not caring about what people think.
Ron Contour: I can’t care. This world man, it’s such a bunch of zombies, it’s hard to break through sometimes. We live in a society where people- like what we’re doing right now, we’re actually talking on the telephone, that’s like taboo now, you’re not suppose to talk, you’re only suppose to text. What kinda world is it where people only text? It’s like, we’re being controlled [and] it’s like one big experiment. They just want us to text and just want us to tweet, so then can keep tabs on us [and] see what we’re up to. [To] keep everybody quiet so that there’s no chance of being antagonists or going against any new change, or whatever. I don’t believe that, I think that people should communicate, to a degree.
MVRemix: So, do you want to use your music to change how the world is?
Ron Contour: No, I’m just reporting what I’m seeing, I guess. Reporting what I’m eating, rather [laughs]. Music is a powerful tool, but I’d rather keep politics out of the music itself. That’s why I do interviews, cause now it’s my time, I could actually speak clearly about my intentions or my beliefs or disbeliefs or whatever, but like in music I just want it to be pleasurable. Life should be enjoyed; I don’t want to be paranoid. People should talk more, texting this or texting that, updating their twitter to say they’re on the toilet, I mean, c’mon.
MVRemix: Do you have a twitter?
Ron Contour: Yeah, @RON_CONTOUR.
MVRemix: Going back to the album, what’s your favourite song on the album?
Ron Contour: I would have to say, “Wondrous” that’s my favourite right now [sings song], Yeah that one. The rhymes are springy, just something about it. It’s me, so I can take pride in the songs and I can remember what was going through my head when I made them or where I wrote them. They weren’t all wrote in the studio, sometimes I was out on my skateboard or I was walking along a country road, or whatever. I always keep a pen and pad with me just in case. Some people keep a handheld recorder, I’m analog; I keep a pad and pen.
MVRemix: So what was going through your head when you wrote that? [Wondrous]
Ron Contour: All of the lyrical content on the album and any of the music I’ve ever made is very random. So they were just random scenes and images that went through my head and because I’ve record a lot of the album in the Canadian prairie, it spoke about a lot of the scenes that were around me in the Canadian prairies.
MVRemix: What can people look forward to, as far as upcoming shows?
Ron Contour: Yeah, here’s the funny thing, you’re gonna laugh [silence], haha ok maybe you might not, but I’ve never done any tours. I haven’t really done a lot of performances, that’s what this spring has been about so far. After the album came out I’ve been getting my show together [and have] been practicing with Factor, because he’s gonna be DJ’ing on the upcoming tours. I did a lot of performances in the early part of 2000 and then I did take that time off to pursue beekeeping and stuff like that. So, I’m just getting back into shows right now [and] I’m really excited. We got a couple of American tours coming up, starting July actually. Canada has been really slow to receive Saffron, I don’t know. Everything always seems to go over better in America. Hopefully that could change; it would be nice to get some Canadian support, so I definitely appreciate this interview. Thank you.
MVRemix: The album is great; it should be a problem for it to do well here.
Ron Contour: I hope. I don’t know what it is, it’s just sometimes it seems like people who are trying to do original or different stuff in rap in Canada, they sort of get shunned.
MVRemix: For someone that’s been in it [the game] for so long, what advice do you have for someone else who not only wants to be in the business, but be like you and do their own thing?
Ron Contour: I would say, don’t make the mistake that I made and take a lot of time off. If you got a vision, don’t let spoiled business frustrate you to the point of giving up on your art, you know what I mean? ‘Cause there’s a good chance I might not have come back after my five year hiatus, you know? That could have been it and there could have been no more rhymes about food. We need food. So I’m just saying, you can’t let the outside world frustrate you from doing what you love, you have to do it for yourself and stand strong even when the forces are against you. That’s it, really. That’s what I believe.
MVRemix: What do you say to those people that say that your cousin is really you?
Ron Contour: [laughs] We don’t even look anything- well I guess we’re similar looking. I mean, I laugh and I don’t really get mad about it because you know, people are silly sheep. Somebody made a rumour about that or whatever and it’s just grueling, I get a kick out of it. So, they’re really gonna get surprised [because] Moka is gonna be featuring me in some stuff coming up and we’re gonna be shooting some videos together. We’re gonna get the last laugh.
MVRemix: Yeah, because I’ve heard it’s more of a Beyonce, Sasha Fierce thing.
Ron Contour: Oh, the alter-ego thing? Nah, but that’s alright. I mean if you [get a chance to see us] side by side then you definitely see the difference. Moka doesn’t wear a fake mustache; he’s comfortable in front of the camera. He doesn’t rap about food as much as I do. I’m just like a very attractive dude [and] he’s like a half decent looking dude.
MVRemix: Ok, well I’d have to say you should continue making albums, you’re very talented and you know what you’re doing.
Ron Contour: Thank you, I’m sitting on ten brand new Ron Contour albums, so they’re definitely gonna come out. I even have a new Ron Contour project with Toronto’s own, Danny O.
MVRemix: What’s that gonna be like?
Ron Contour: Crazy, really unexpected, especially when they see what Danny O is gonna be doing on it. People are used to a certain thing, but I loosened him up lyrically, it’s gonna be crazy. So we got that coming out at a certain point in it time. I’m just gonna keep going, I don’t imagine I’ll ever get tired of it [doing music].
MVRemix: What is your favourite part of doing what you do?
Ron Contour: Hmm, there’s so much. I get a lot of pleasure from writing. Just because it’s visual, the sky’s the limit. If you’re the author, you’re at will to say whatever you want and paint whatever type of picture you want to. So I get a lot of pleasure form that. I remember performing being a lot of fun too, so I’m looking forward to seeing people’s faces when I’m bugging out on stage. You know what? I’d say between the creation and doing the interviews, I really like doing the interviews because it’s my only chance to say what I really mean and what I wanna talk about. Those are my two favorite things; the creation of the music and the interviews. All the other stuff, like all the money, that’s cool but I mean, you can get money from anything right?
MVRemix: Where is the best place for your fans and people that don’t know you yet to follow your career?
Ron Contour: The underground, just keep your ear to the street, I suppose. We got a Ron Contour website coming, it’s not set up though, so for now it’s Ron Contour on MySpace. Then there’s Ron Contour on Twitter and Ron Contour on your television set.
MVRemix: What haven’t we covered yet that you want the world to know?
Ron Contour: I think you pretty much got everything there, you know? Um, I have a spring mixtape that came out like a week after Saffron dropped. It was from a trip that I took to the Ontario area in November. It’s called Rontario, it’s out and available now on Itunes and Moka produced that one.
MVRemix: Is it the same kind of vibe as the album?
Ron Contour: Yeah, it’s all about Ontario, every song. It’s a travel series I’m doing. We’re going to different places and then I’m going to dedicate particular albums to different places. I kept it real though, it’s not corny, I didn’t go to Niagara Falls and say [sings], “In Niagara Falls, Ontario, it’s always a fun place to go.” I wasn’t trying to make a mockery cause I do like Ontario a lot, so it was just like my dedication to Ontario basically. Yup, there you have it, Rontario.
More than just a rapper, Swazy Baby has created a buzz in the industry with hard work and dedication. At such a young age, he not only writes his own music but also produces and makes his own beats. Newly signed to Slip N Slide records, known for talents like Trina, Rick Ross and Plies, this Georgia-bred artist is building a name for himself and paving the way for young artists after him.
Swazy Baby has remained true to himself and to his music. Not only talented, but also intelligent, this rising star has made a conscious decision to put out his debut album when he feels the timing is right. With his mixtapes, performances and videos (one already featured and supported on Worldstarhiphop), Swazy Baby is giving his fans everywhere a reason to anticipate his debut album.
This week, Swazy Baby spoke exclusively with MVRemix about his music, his influences, his first time meeting rapper, Trina, his celebrity crushes and future plans.
MVRemix: What’s up Swazy Baby? How are you? You ready to get into the interview?
Swazy Baby: I’m good, I’m good. yeahh, I’m ready.
MVRemix: Ok, let’s get straight into it, for those that don’t already know you, in your own words, who is Swazy Baby?
Swazy Baby: A[n] artist. Some people [are] rappers, some people [are] singers, some people [are] beat makers, some people [are] producers, you know what I mean? I feel like an artist, cause I don’t just rap, I mean, I rap, sing, write, make beats [and] produce. I call my self a[n] artist, a true artist.
MVRemix: Why the name Swazy Baby?
Swazy Baby: I had to keep Swazy cause my uncle was the one who inspired me to do the rapping thing. I was looking up to him, and he gave me the Swazy, so I just took the Swazy and ran with it. The Baby came from the females.
MVRemix: What was it like growing up in Georgia, I know in a recent interview you said if you weren’t doing music, you’d be selling drugs or in jail?
Swazy Baby: yeahh. As far as I can remember, I was used to growing up in the projects. My mama was strict on me, she made sure I went to school, you know what I mean? . I wasn’t no bad child or nothing like that. I really didn’t get into a whole lot of trouble at home, you know what I mean? I kinda got in[to] trouble at school, like fighting and stuff. I mean, we struggled every now and then with bills and everything. She [mom] was raising us by herself most of the time [and] my grandmother helped out. My mother, my aunties, my uncles [all helped]. I wouldn’t say I struggled worst than the next person. I feel like everybody done went through trials and tribulations and I made it out, so I thank God for that, cause I could have been in jail or doing stupid stuff. The music kind of saved me.
MVRemix: And you’ve been rapping since you were 9?
Swazy Baby: yeahh, I started rapping when I was 9.
MVRemix: Like you said, you’re not just a rapper, you’re singer (yeahh I heard that little falsetto track you did, don’t worry I won’t ask you to sing.)
Swazy Baby: [laughs] Ok, I appreciate that. Most people when they see me they want me to sing.
MVRemix: And you write and produce. What do you love doing the most?
Swazy Baby: Hmm, I have to say producing. I like producing.
MVRemix: What do you like about producing?
Swazy Baby: I mean, the fact that I get to do me. I record myself most of the time. I only get to record when I’m out of town. I record like 90 percent of everything I do [myself]. So, I get to know like, ok, I like this, I want that done and I don’t got to depend on nobody else. Some producers like to put their own little twist on it [tracks]. So, when I’m at the crib and just doing me I get to do whatever I want to do, so if I feel like something ain’t right I can take it out, or if it needs something I can add it on. That’s what I love.
MVRemix: As the newest artist signed to Slip N Slide Records, how has being signed changed your life so far?
Swazy Baby: Awe man, my popularity grew, first of all. I was popular in my area, but now my music is reaching other states and stuff like that. I got little kids running up to me asking for autographs. I really wasn’t used to it. I never thought that people would be running up to me and saying that they love me, or love my music, or give me a[n] autograph or take pictures, I mean, stuff like that. It was like 12 o clock one night and I was coming out the crib and this dude seen me walking out and said he was out there for like 10-15 minutes, cause his little boy wanted my autograph. So that kinda made me feel good, you know? To know people love me like that.
MVRemix: You mentioned Plies, as being one of your influences, how has he influenced your music?
Swazy Baby: I got a chance to meet him in Atlanta, when I met him he gave me some good advice, first of all. He told me, “don’t let the people that signed you stop you from doing what you was doing that made them sign you.” It was something like that; I really didn’t get it until now. When I was just sitting around waiting on the label to do this and do that, it kinda dawned on me. I was putting music out before Slip N Slide came, so why not continue to do that? When I started doing that my buzz started picking up, everybody was talking about Swazy Baby, you know what I mean? I feel like, I’m not gonna say I can relate to all his [Plies] music, some of his music be off the wall. Some of his songs I listen to off his old mixtapes, like the one about God [Plies “God”], I like that. He talks about real life situations, [even] with females and stuff like that. He influenced me that way. I keep my music real.
MVRemix: Have you done any records with any of your label mates yet?
Swazy Baby: When I first got over there, I got on a song with Qwote. I did a song with Camar, he’s on the label. Hmm, I did a song with Trina.
MVRemix: What’s that track called?
Swazy Baby: “Talk About This Money.” It’s on a mixtape. I forgot the name of the mixtape [laughs]. It was nice working with Trina, she’s real cool people. The first time I got signed, they had me down there [in Miami] for a month just recording. She came to the studio one day [and] I had never seen her in person before [and] I kinda wanted to see how she look. I was young watching Trina on TV. So when I seen her, she didn’t have no makeup on or nothing, I was like, she’s beautiful and nice shape and everything. She really is the baddest. No makeup on, no nothing and she was beautiful. I told her to check couple of my tracks out. She was like, “you’re real good.” So since then we’ve been cool. She showed me love, so I respect Trina for that.
MVRemix: Are you still touring right now?
Swazy Baby: The Yo Gotti tour? Nah, I got off that.
Swazy Baby: There was no money in it. [laughs]. I had to keep it 100. I want people to know Swazy Baby is real. I did the first show and I was like, “Where my cheque at?” I know it was Yo Gotti tour and I ain’t no big major artist or whatever yet, but once I surface, 80 percent of these rappers? I’mma kill ‘em. So, I just took myself off of it. I called my CEO and let him know how I felt and he got me with another DJ, now I’m gonna do my own thing. I’m gonna go to these cities and do a little promo. The free stuff, I done did that. It’s time to get some money now. I can’t just sit around making music and not making money.
MVRemix: So, when is that tour starting?
Swazy Baby: I think it starts next week, down in Florida. I gotta hit him up.
MVRemix: What’s your favourite song to perform?
Swazy Baby: Awe man, I feel like the songs that I made now are better than the songs that I did then. So, I’m kinda waiting to perform these new songs that I done did. I feel like they got a better club vibe to ‘em, people can just rock with me. I’mma show out. The song that I performed the most was, Half Of It, my swagger song. I went to a high school one time and performed it and I didn’t even really have to rap it, they was rapping the words for me. That was a good feeling. I always wanted to be on stage performing and be able to hold the mic out and then a whole bunch of people just saying the words. That felt real good.
MVRemix: You’ve successfully put out mixtapes and videos, your new video “Yeen 100,” was recently featured on Worldstarhiphop, what has the reception been like for that video?
Swazy Baby: I mean I got a lot of good responses, mostly. You know you’re gonna have somebody that’s gonna have something bad to say about it. Especially on Worldstarhiphop, I done went on people’s [stuff] who had great music and they’re like, “Man you suck.” I’m like, man ya’ll trippin’.
MVRemix: They’re always hating on there.
Swazy Baby: Yeah they be haters. But overall, I had good responses.
MVRemix: What do you have to say to people comparing you to other artists?
Swazy Baby: [laughs] They gotta listen to my music, they can’t just judge me off of one song. Like on my Yeen 100 video, they talking ‘bout I’mma old Jeezy and all that, I was like that’s just one song. First of all when Jeezy first came out, Jeezy wasn’t rapping like this, Jeezy had a different type of style, you know what I mean? I feel like it’s all about finding yourself. When Plies first came out, he wasn’t rapping like how he rapping now. When T.I. first came out he wasn’t rapping like how he rapping now. They find themselves, you know what I mean? They become more confident and when they get to that point, they be[come] great artists. The Yeen 100 song, I did that a minute ago, so if you listen to the music now and you listen to that, you be like, yeahh I hear the growth. You gotta know how to rap different ways, you can’t just rap the same way on every song. You gotta switch it up sometimes. Don’t nobody really own no way of rapping, I mean, you got your word play of what you talking about, but a style of rapping, I don’t believe that.
MVRemix: One thing about you, you’re always working, always in the studio. What other songs and videos can we look forward to you putting out?
Swazy Baby: I just did a video with a local artist from Duval, Jacksonville, Florida called “Go Hard.” It’s mad super chill, it should be on youtube. That’s “Go Hard,” featuring me and Magazeen from Maybach music Group. I shot a video for a single off of The Young Bosses mixtape, with me Lil’ Webbie and Lil’ Phat. I shot a video for my very first single off my first mixtape before I got signed. Let me see, what else? I think that’s about it.
MVRemix: When can we expect a debut album from you?
Swazy Baby: They’re telling me the fourth quarter of this yeahhr, probably like October or something like that. But me personally, I don’t wanna drop a[n] album until I feel like everybody know[s] Swazy Baby. Not everybody, but at least a whole bunch of people. Right now I’m still building my fan base, so that’s why I’m doing these mixtapes and stuff, trying to get my name and my buzz up. I don’t wanna set myself up for failure by dropping an album and don’t nobody even know me like that. So that’s why I got like three or four mixtapes out, I’m still working on them and trying to get them heard across the world. I’m not really doing features now on my mixtape, cause I want people to like Swazy Baby as a[n] artist, not like, nobody else. I wanna gain loyal fans, so I just do a whole bunch of music by myself. So when I do drop and album I know it’ll be a success and it won’t fail, or I won’t get dropped, like a lot of people do.
MVRemix: When that time comes, what artists would you like to see featured on your album, besides your label mates?
Swazy Baby: I want some R&B cats on my album. I don’t really want no rappers on my first album. Probably like Trey Songz, Pleasure P. Well, as a rapper, probably Nicki Minaj.
MVRemix: My favourite song of yours is “I sang,” [which is now available on ITunes], are we going to hear more melodies like that from you?
Swazy Baby: Oh yeahh, you can expect a whole bunch of melodies like that. That’s my main style. I told you I’m versatile, I got different styles, but that’s my main style. To tell you the truth, that song came up because [laughs] a DJ I know from around my way, he was picking at me on twitter talking ‘bout, “I’m bout to release Swazy R&B album on twitter.” Cause when I was local, I did a half R&B mixtape and a half rap mixtape and my buzz really got big ‘round my area, especially when I dropped the R&B stuff. That’s where the [name] Baby really came from, like when I dropped that R&B mixtape, man them girls went crazy. All I heard was baby this, baby that. So I just threw it on Swazy. Next thing I know, everybody was like Swazy Baby. So like I said, I was in the studio and my cousin sent me a beat, I was already singing, so then when it came out, it was like, yeahh, I sang. I kinda kept it G, you know? Even though I was with the melodic style and singing, I was knda like saying some G stuff, I wasn’t so soft with it. I gave it both at the same time.
MVRemix: Now that you have your foot in the door and doing so well, what advice would you give another artist on the come up?
Swazy Baby: Don’t forget the ones that helped you get where you’re trying to go. Keep it 100 with yourself before anybody else. Don’t let anybody tell you to fake this and do that. You will feel better, believe me.
MVRemix: You’re young, just 19 right? Or are you 20 now?
Swazy Baby: yeahh, just turned 20 in February.
MVRemix: Ok, so are you single? You know the ladies wanna know that.
Swazy Baby: [laughs] yeahh I’m single.
MVRemix: Any celebrity crushes?
Swazy Baby: I like a couple people, as celebrities [go]. I don’t think I’d date a celebrity. I’d probably just let them know I like them or whatever. I like Hannah Montana [laughs]. I like Demi Lovato, I like Nicki Minaj, I like, who else? Hmm, Meagan Good.
MVRemix: And this is just crush-wise, right? Why wouldn’t you date a celebrity?
Swazy Baby: yeahh, just crush-wise, I wouldn’t date a celebrity. I mean, first of all, they rich already. I don’t feel like they would date me if I wasn’t signed or if I wasn’t on the come up, if I was a regular person. I don’t think they would pay too much attention to me, if I was just to say, yeahh I got a crush on you, I wanna date you. So that’s how I feel about the situation with the celebrities and stuff. I’d just be cool with a hood chick, [just] a regular girl.
MVRemix: yeahh, I think the regular girls will be happy to hear that. So remember, if the regular girls come up to you, you gotta give them a chance.
Swazy Baby: yeahh, fo sho. [laughs]
MVRemix: Before you go, let’s play a quick little game. Tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say a phrase or word. You ready?
Swazy Baby: [laughs] Alright.
MVRemix: First one, “Swazy Baby.”
Swazy Baby: Sex, sex, sex. S-E-X, sex.
Swazy Baby: Great.
Swazy Baby: First.
Swazy Baby: Awe man, I love ‘em.
MVRemix: Ok, the word, love
Swazy Baby: Hmm, damn I’m thinking too long huh? Umm, I don’t believe it all the time.
MXRemix: Last one, future.
Swazy Baby: [laughs] Damn, I’m not good at this game.
MVRemix: You should have said bright, your future is bright, c’mon.
Swazy Baby: yeahh, I had that on the tip of my tongue [laughs], but yeahh, bright, I’ll say bright.
MVRemix: Ok, we’re gonna make sure I get credit for telling you that one though.
Swazy Baby: [laughs] Alright then.
MVRemix: Nice, you did good. Where can people hear more music from you? The best place they can follow your career?
Swazy Baby: The best place? I gotta say Slip N Slide World, first of all. They got all my updates, and where I’m gonna be at and the newest music. My MySpace page, Twitter too. My Facebook, and my YouTube. Of course you can find me on more websites.
Raheem DeVaughn is no stranger to the music industry. From his debut with, The Love Experience, to his brand new album, The Love & War Masterpeace, he has continued to contribute timeless music and remain relevant.
His message is simple: Love, empowerment, encouragement and strength. Raheem has used his music to instill all of this in everyone that takes the time to listen. His collection of music is filled with a conscious vibe.
The Love & War Masterpeace is definitely a masterpiece. He’s brought light to some of the greatest social and political issues facing our world today. Whether it’s his view on war in, “Nobody Wins A War,” or his view on various world issues in “Bulletproof,” Raheem has found a clever way to speak on it.
With a line up of artists including, Ludacris, Jill Scott, Chrisette Michele, Anthony Hamilton and philosopher, Cornel West, he’s combined different genres of music to tell his story of Love, War and Peace.
What some may say is missing from new music Raheem has found it. He’s made “feel good” music. Following in the footsteps of some of his influences, Marvin Gaye and Barry White, Raheem delivers beautifully. The Love & War Masterpeace debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200, selling over 90,000 copies. Now in the fifth week of his album release, he spoke with MVRemix briefly about its reception.
MVRemix: You’ve done a lot of interviews before your album, The Love & War Masterpeace was released, now that’s it’s been out for over a month, how do you feel about its reception?
Raheem DeVaughn: I think it’s great. I think that I could still extend a lot of people to the music; but overall, the feedback has been great. Being in the fifth week and all, you never know how people will take or the music and the album circulating and everything, but it’s going very well.
MVRemix: You’ve received some international success as well, like with the video “I don’t care.”
Raheem DeVaughn: Yea, it’s picking up. In the UK, it seems to be doing very well. That’s growth for me, I haven’t really had a record over there to really pop, but I’m hearing that they’re really into that record over there.
MVRemix: How would you describe your growth from your first album to this album?
Raheem DeVaughn: First of all, this is my third album in five years. What’s unique about this album is definitely the demo CD factor, it’s hard for people to sell music and I think that was definitely a risk worth taking. i think this album shows my growth as a vocalist [and] my growth as a songwriter. It also shows my depth as a writer. You know, just to not have a bunch of shallow songs that aren’t talking about anything in particular.
MVRemix: You mentioned you’re a singer and a songwriter; you’re also an actor. What do you enjoy doing the most?
Raheem DeVaughn: Hmm man, I think it kind of all intertwines, you know what I mean? Being an artist, you gotta know how to turn it on and turn it off. I don’t know what I enjoy doing more. I think ultimately like performing, being able to perform a record, especially when you know you got a hit record in your hands. Definitely to connect with your audience and perform; I think that’s the best part of it for me
MVRemix: On this album, you have a good mixture of artist, from hip-hop, R&B, soul. Why was that important for you to do?
Raheem DeVaughn: I feel like it matters putting out albums now. It’s like the extra tentions have been set so high. People expect you to put out an album and I haven’t had one in one or two years
MVRemix: Watching you in interviews and listening to you music, I’m always impressed by your positivity. Where does that attitude come from?
Raheem DeVaughn: I think that’s just how I look at life. I just try to have a positive outfit and try give off that energy, throughout the people that’s connecting with my music. You have to be able to define the type of artist you are. If you don’t, then people will assume you are this type of artist that you may not be.
MVRemix: Do you feel any pressure at all as a black man in the industry? I know you have a song with Wale on your album and he was recently criticized for not having enough dark skinned women in his video, is there any pressure on you to please your audience?
Raheem DeVaughn: I mean, you got different types of artists. I can’t really speak for Wale, I can only speak for myself; but some artists are not as hands on with their situation as I may be. You have several artists who don’t care about their image is, they don’t care about none of that. I’m pretty hands-on with what goes on, with that in particular [selection of females], the “I don’t care” video, I was very adamant having chocolate. I feel like all the women are beautiful. We try to spread it out; spread the love. I mean, I don’t feel like every video should have a dark skinned girl or every video should have a light skinned woman, I feel like variety is important.
MVRemix: If you had to choose just one song off the new album, to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Raheem DeVaughn: [laughs] Awe man. That’s crazy, that’s kind of hard. Of course the Dr. West interlude, awe man, I would definitely have to choose Bulletproof, and then Garden of Love, maybe.
MVRemix: What’s most important message you hope someone gets from your album?
Raheem DeVaughn: The message is this: as artists and producers, you have to define 2010, you know, with the climate the way it is, the earthquakes, volcanoes, you know everything. Having to tackle unemployment. Music is going to a place where we want it to go, it’s going to become more real and more blunt. As artists you have to define what your message is going to be and mine is definitely a message of love, empowerment and encouragement, you know, and strength. All I wanna do is really just like help more people rise to a higher level of consciousness.
MVRemix: You mentioned Bob Marley as one of your mentors, what have you taken from him and incorporated into your own music?
Raheem DeVaughn: One thing from Bob, a lot of people don’t know the history of Bob Marley. Bob Marley started out as a top 40 artists, which means he sells top 40 songs. Then he started a transition and he became more socially conscious by the end of his career. What I got from that is that conscious music, it never gets old.
MVRemix: What inspires you to pick up a pen and pad and start writing?
Raheem DeVaughn: I don’t sit down and write the songs. My process is that, I guess you could say, that I’m a freestyle writer. I’ve been like that for at least ten years. I don’t really sit down with a pen or a pad. I go to the studio, if it’s a beat that I like I just need to go in and spit it real quick, and I have a recorder that I use. Pretty much, couple hours later we have some songs. On a good day, I may do two, three songs a day.
MVRemix: What can we expect from you next?
Raheem DeVaughn: Well I’m shooting the “Hopeless Romantic” April 25, that video is going to be animated. Also coming soon is my video for “Bedroom.” I actually want to shoot a video for every single song on the album.
Eyedea and Abilites Interview. Friday, February 5, 2010
Interview conducted by Amber-Bryant Peller and Heather Snowball
MVRemix: Eyedea, that’s an interesting name.
Eyedea: Haha yeah. Actually the first time it was in the newspaper they spelt it Lydia, like the girl’s name.
MVRemix: Your name used to be the sixth sense?
Eyedea: That was a long time ago. We had one thing come out under that name and it was literally when we were fifteen. At the time all the rhymester stuff was like that, like Beyond and Black Hole, etc.
MVRemix: Do you have any preshow traditions?
Eyedea: No not really. I try to warm myself up a little bit. Warm up my voice. Drink. I do like to have a little bit of time alone to focus and have time to think. Also if I’ve played the venue before I like to visualize the stage so it is not a whole new thing. Visualize it going well and then the show is not as wild and searchy especially when I’m improvising. I imagine what it’s going to be like to improvise which makes the performance not new and scary.
MVRemix: Do you have a certain vibe you want for your concerts?
Eyedea: No, not necessarily. I do want it to be a real experience for people. I don’t want it to feel super reheased — which it never will be because it never is. I don’t want it to feel like a mask of art but rather like people doing stuff with other people — totally relatable. I think artists hide behind their art. Projecting. They make art about the ideal self and not the real self which is usually contrived. It is more how they want to see themselves, which is easy to see through and then you see people’s insecurities. I’d rather have the song be about the insecurity. It’s difficult to be a human but it’s okay too. I’m not a brain surgeon, separate from the world but just a person who has ideas about stuff.
MVRemix: Your lyrics are very deep, what inspires you? You mention suffering on your myspace..
Eyedea: Yeah well, suffering that is where it all comes from. The psychological human condition. I’m rarely inspired to make music by listening to other music. Inspiration always comes from some internal conflict or some problem I see with something. Not an attempt to solve the problem which is creating a mask but trying not to run from the problem. But to confront it and to live with it. Fully admit to yourself, you’re angry, you’re fucked up, you’re sad…you are all of these things. Your ego tricks you into an identity driven tunnel and I want my art to rip that apart. It sucks to feel jealous but it is a real feeling and how do you get beyond that if you don’t understand it and your own feelings.
Anytime you have a psychological disturbance you run from it. It happens again and again, and you are never free from it. I ask, how do you free yourself from the things that are imprisoning you. You can’t run yourself out of the prison, you just end up in a new prison. That’s why, as human beings we still kill each other, that is why have war. Political differences are just superficial changes. Real change is psychological change, something we can barely do and we haven’t done collectively because we run from it. We say, “instead of being pissed off or sad I’m not going to feel that way. I’m going to do yoga or study quantum mechanics and figure out the universe.” And all this is fine but confronting and fully admitting and dealing with the psychological suffering of humanity is what I want to do. It’s kind of a Buddhist idea but we all are feeling the same pain every single human being feels that.
MVRemix: Is this what you attempt to deal with this in your songs?
Eyedea: Yeah totally. I don’t think it’s worth making anything else. When you have time to sit down what else are you going to write about. It’s the biggest thing that is happening…the state of humanity…what’s bigger than that?
MVRemix: Started out free-styling, do you incorporate it into shows?
Eyedea: Totally. Even how I live my life as an artist is based off of improvising. Starting a new band. Not rehearsing ever. I’m better off as a person if I admit that I am flawed and this is what improvising really shows. Most people are scared to sound or look a certain way and so don’t improvise. I say, Improvise! Cut your hair! It doesn’t really matter because what is behind all that is the thing that’s true, the confusion, the pain, the real thing.
A less known fact about me is that I also have a bunch of different bands. One is a fully exclusive freestyle free jazz band. We are 100% improvised music and are called Face Candy. A new thing I’m just starting is called Puppy dogs and Ice-cream.
MVRemix: You have some different pseudonyms.
Eyedea: Oliver Hart is my most famous one. I didn’t want to be feeding too much into one name.
MVRemix: Is all this improvisation why Eyedea and Abilites took a five year break?
Eyedea: Yeah I just started other bands and started doing other stuff. I needed to focus more on writing music with other instruments to make it palpable to others. A lot of work had to go into it and initially people were giving me death threats and throwing golf balls at me because they did not like the change. I had to try very hard to change people’s perspectives. I started making music when I was very young and so some people love music from the 15-yr-old, now I am 28 years old, so I am not making the same music.
MVRemix: What kind of music do you like?
Eyedea: I love music. Kimya Dawson is one of my favourites. I was sitting in a coffee house and she was playing and I was totally hypnotized. It felt like getting punched in the stomach and I realized that I had always been lying. She’s telling the truth and I had this big realization. She is so brutally true and honest and hearing her sparked this whole different development in my thought process. I listen to music all day every day.
MVRemix: Any guilty pleasures?
Eyedea: Ben Folds. Ben Folds live. I think he is brilliant. Nothing super pop or anything.
MVRemix: What do you like best about performing?
Eyedea: I suppose it is a bit of a rush. It is a time and place where you can forget yourself. So much stuff is going on when you are trying to give it your all. So it is partly physical and you kind of stop and for moments you forget about yourself. I am embracing this bigger thing, which is the biggest rush, for a split second you are not dealing with you own specific identity process.
MVRemix: Least favourite thing?
Eyedea: Nothing really. Maybe waiting to perform.
MVRemix: Anything you don’t like about the industry?
Eyedea: I don’t really like anything specifically about the industry, because it’s selling art which is a weird thing. But I don’t dislike anything specifically, I realize that it is demand industry. Some people blame it on film-makers but it is the people that buy it.
MVRemix: What is the dynamic like between you and Abilities?
Eyedea: We’ve been friends since we were kids so kind of brotherly. We are both from Minnesota, same town.
MVRemix: What’s Minnesota like?
Eyedea: It’s great. It’s got a great music scene in the Twin cities. I’ve been all around the world and it’s the best I’ve seen. It’s the only reason I’m there. I can’t deal with the winter, I can’t deal with the summer, it’s terrible to live there, physically. But the music: free jazz, rock, rap, anything you want in abundance, any night of the week.
MVRemix: Do you have any musical goals?
Eyedea: I do have goals. I want to get closer and closer to not having to think about making stuff I like. My goal is to essentially not have that step. Just pick up and play. I don’t think it will ever be possible and if I did achieve it I would probably be like fuck it and go sit around.
MVRemix: Do you play other instruments?
Eyedea: I do. Guitar, keyboard. I also mix and engineer, like for our records. I do a lot of the studio recording.
MVRemix: What do you do outside of making music?
Eyedea: Not much. Clean my apartment. Do a lot of writing words. Art projects with friends.
MVRemix: How long does it take you to write a new song?
Eyedea: If it’s right the not long. I don’t sit down and try and write music. I only do it if I feel like I really have to. So if it takes more than 5 minutes I don’t normally keep it or remember it.
MVRemix: Is this why you are good at freestyling?
Eyedea: Haha, thank. I don’t know if I’m good but I’m not afraid of it. I like it and I think why I keep indulging in it is because it’s how I live my life. I improvise my life.
MVRemix: Off topic. Do you have any tattoos?
Eyedea: No. I have lot about. I’ve always thought the best thing to do would be to get one that reminds me of something. But then if I need a symbol to remind me of it then I’m not really going to be reminded. And I’m not really into putting art on my body so I’ll probably never get a tattoo.
MVRemix: How has your music evolved?
Eyedea: I started dabbling in music when I was probably around 7 and started writing words around 8. When I was a kid I was so infatuated with becoming a rockstar. I used to have all the posters, the whole thing. First time I performed I made a bunch of guitars that didn’t work and did a Poison cover. I moved from hard metal to hair metal to rap in the late 80s. Rap is kind of what got me into writing words. I thought these guys are so scary, they are so dangerous.
MVRemix: Do you have any crazy fan stories?
Eyedea: Yeah, but all of it was too intense for me. People going over the line, people really hating me and some people totally obsessed. It’s always been intense and hard for me to deal with.
MVRemix: What are some of your fears?
Eyedea: I have a lot of fears. My biggest maybe is feeling insignificant; it all boils down to that in the end.
MVRemix: Any final thing that you would like your fans to know?
Eyedea: My favourite band for the last couple years is a band called WHY?