Here’s Your New Hip Hop EP of the Summer

Ta’ Sean Du Bois is a San Diego based rapper who’s been lighting up the SD and college scene. His last project, Tea Time, received a great response from fans and now he’s dropping a new EP, Summer San Diego. Ta’ Sean is all about creating lively, upbeat music that represents his favorite city, San Diego. Read on to find out more about his upcoming EP.

When is your new EP coming out?

We’re aiming on dropping the project on July 14th. 

What makes this project different from the last one you dropped?

I feel like since Tea Time I’ve grown and matured as an artist. I’ve found and gotten comfortable with my own style and don’t mind expressing my experiences with everyone. 

What can listeners expect?

They can expect a different, but still West Coast, sound. They can expect to play it or hear it at the next frat or sorority party.

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Instagram: @noteashirt

What were some of the inspirations you drew upon when you were creating this album?

When I was creating Summer San Diego I was really just doing a lot of city watching. I would go on walks in the morning and really just breathe and take in my city’s beauty. Also Jack Daniels, mary jane, and listening to early 2000s music were great influences, too. 

You said some of the EP is influenced by the college party scene, can you elaborate on this?

Yeah, so I live not too far from San Diego State and Friday and Saturday is when Montezuma Road be poppin’ with people walking from party to party. I’ve been to a few parties there myself and they are always lit. The guys be smokin’ backwoods, the females be drowning vodka. Everybody is dancing and everybody is having a good time. It’s all about having a good time and that’s what I wanted my tape to be about. Having a good time. State students know how to turn up and I’m proud to say that I’m from a city with a dope college party scene! 

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Twitter: @noteashirt

What else have you recently been working on? Any shows?

Recently I’ve been working on a lot of visuals. We’ve been shooting videos for the project and so far everything is looking clean. We’ve dropped the “Pi$tol Tony” video already so make sure y’all check that out! I have a couple shows coming up with Eklektic fam but I gotta keep that on the DL [laughing]. Besides that I have one with my homie Lil Mttn on the 28th in LA. Also I have a mansion party coming up on the 8th so that’s going to be dope. Anyone’s invited by the way! Other than that I’m just working on my health and as myself as an artist. 

How many songs will be on the EP?

There’s going to be six songs plus a bonus track so yeah!

Will you be performing anywhere in the near future?

Mansion party on the 8th come turn up.

What do you have to say to your fans and what’s one reason everyone should listen to this EP?

I wanna tell all my fans that all you guys are cool and I love you guys and thank you guys for rocking with me. Also anyone who hasn’t caught on the wave yet, make sure you start paddling now. Summer San Diego is going to be that new sound that puts the city on the map like it’s supposed to be! 

Final thoughts?

Yo, shoutout my Mom and Dad, shout out Alton and Aiden, shoutout Eklectik, and shout out to my city San Diego. Let’s get it!

BET Awards Pre Party + Pics!

Saturday night, Interscope Records hosted their annual BET Awards Pre Party at ROKU/ Blind Dragon in West Hollywood. The guest list was star studded as artists, tastemakers and industry pros gathered to celebrate this year’s hottest music. The party was sponsored by Martell Cognac, Clairol Professional, Finish Line, PRG, Fanta and MEZZ. Some stars in attendance included Playboi Carti, A$Ap Rocky, J. Cole, Lana Del Rey, Steve Rifkind, D.R.A.M., Aminé, K Camp and more. The dance floor stayed live until 2 a.m. thanks to DJ Reflex and DJ A-OH. Check out these photos from the event to find your favorite artist!

 

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K Camp (Photo by: Rich Polk / Getty Images)
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A$AP Rocky (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Big Baby D.R.A.M. (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Playboi Carti (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Aminé (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Jax Jones (Photo by: Rich Polk / Getty Images)
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Aminé (Photo by: Rich Polk / Getty Images)
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COZZ (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Hazel-E and Miles Brock (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Terrence J (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Kamaiyah (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Ib Hamad (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Earthgang and J.I.D. (Photo by: Rich Polk / Getty Images)
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K Camp (Photo by: Rich Polk / Getty Images)
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Tim Glover (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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J.I.D. (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Arin Ray (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Jax Jones (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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A$AP Rocky (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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K Camp (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Lecrae (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Rich the Kid (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Carl Chery (Photo by: Jerritt Clark / Getty Images)
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Kamaiyah and Tim Glover (Photo by: Rich Polk / Getty Images)

 

Something Special in the Water! Interview with Def Jam’s Jahkoy

‘Something special must be in Canadian water!’ Jahkoy Palmer said that comment to him made by many journalists was the inspiration for his highly anticipated EP titled Foreign Water, which just debuted in October. The album followed his September single “California Heaven,” featuring L.A. rapper Schoolboy Q, which received rave reviews from USA Today, Billboard, and the Fader and is skyrocketing to the top of Spotify viral charts. Jahkoy has been described as “the next in the list of big names to come from Canada,” but his unique genre-blending approach tying R&B and electric house makes him stand out from the rest. His eclectic sound and feels-hitting vocals have generated active support from Pharrell, Elton John and his single “Odd Future” premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio Show and played on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio. Jahkoy tore up the stage at festivals all over the U.S. this summer, driving crowds crazy at Lollapalooza, Wireless UK, Billboard Hot 100, and tons more. The world wants more, and the 22-year-old Def Jam Recordings artist is cooking up a world tour, a new album, and new shows for 2017.

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IG @jahkoy

Jahkoy’s been making music for so long that he laughed when I asked him what his first musical experience was, saying “I couldn’t tell you my first experience with music just because I’ve been doing music for so long that I don’t even remember when I started. I just remember always loving it.”

He’s been writing music since he was 11. “It started with writing poems in school. I turned a lot of those poems into music—I used to rap at the time—so it was a lot of poems that turned into raps.” Rapping under the alias of “Raheem” in Toronto was the beginning of Jahkoy’s journey.

“I grew up on a lot of Def Jam poetry. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that experience of the spoken word, and expressing how I feel in a format that was like written to tell a story, and also make it sound smooth. As a kid it’s like ‘monkey see monkey do,’ you see something that’s really cool [and] you want to try it, and that’s how it was for me. I saw something that was really dope and I wanted to be a part of music. I love music, music always changed how I felt, it would make me feel better. A funny story that my mom tells me, I guess when I was 2 years old and every time I started crying she would put on this record by Craig Mack called ‘Flava in Ya Ear,’ and she said every time she would play the record I would stop crying immediately. So I guess music has just instilled in me [a way] to help me get rid of my demons and get vulnerable, and just express myself as a whole. Ever since I can remember I’ve just been in love with that form of expression.”

“I love music, music always changed how I felt, it would make me feel better.”

We talked about Jahkoy’s transition from rap to R&B, and where his inspiration stems from. “I started singing two years ago at the Disclosure show. At the time, I didn’t know who Disclosure was or know anything about them,” he recalled. Jahkoy first saw the Electronic Duo at their concert in Toronto, which he’d gone to see Vic Mensa. As his first exposure to purely instrumental music, Disclosure blew him away. “Just having that experience, seeing instrumental music being appreciated by people just enjoying themselves, listening to the bump of the beat. And having that first experience, not really familiar with the instrumental world, and it struck me that there could be potential vocals over these records to make them like number one hits. And it was wanting to go through a bit of trial and error to make some potential hits in that dance-infused world. It was using, I guess, pop music with urban—a little bit of that urban—and throwing it over house records. With all the technology that we have right now, we’re able to do so many things to make good music, and it’s so hard to I guess label it, I like to just call it good music. Music is evolving… a lot of my music has three elements—house, R&B, or acoustic, those are the worlds that I live in musically and that’s how I express myself. I never like to stick to one, I never like to cater to a specific style, I just like to express myself entirely and how it comes out at the moment is how we’re going to execute it, and most of the time it comes out at random.”

He then opened up about the evolution of his signing voice and where he’d like to improve upon. “I’m still working on my voice, vocally, and learning where I can take things. ‘Cause I’ve only been singing for a couple years now, so I’m not where I’m going to be if I get like ten years of experience. Right now, I feel like I’m still in the earlier stages of my career. I feel really comfortable where I am, especially over time. I’ve been going to vocal lessons, I feel more in control of my voice, feel more comfortable, but I’m still learning. The future is bright, the rest is history.”

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Twitter @jahkoy

He’s definitely right about that; Jahkoy’s future is bright. He’s setting out to prove himself here in the U.S. and continue making waves.

“Foreign Water is out, my first album. That lets me know that the engines are running, so now I really gotta prove why I’m the one and why I should be here, what do I bring to the table. I’m trying to bring a fresh experience to the listeners of the music world, in this industry, to share the experience of someone from Canada. I’m coming from the other side of the border, I really want to share the Canadian experience. I’m in America now, I’m seeing different things and meeting new people and absorbing a lot, becoming more of myself and seeing all that’s out there. I’m only going to grow and am only going to become better at what I do, trying to master my art as much as possible and understanding what it means to be in the music industry and what being a part of the singer-songwriter world is, and linking up and making these connections. When I first came out to LA, I found myself in a lot of happy accidents. I came out here to make music and really put my foot in the door, and prove to everybody why I’m here. I’m working on my album—hopefully top of the year, looking at a world tour, potentially, got some shows coming up early in the year. It’s going to be awesome.”

Jahkoy’s got some pretty exciting stuff lined up and has made a lot of major transitions, but through all of it he hasn’t forgotten why he’s here. “I really just want to put an imprint on the next generation so that they can absorb my energy and potentially feed off of my energy and deliver it to the following generation, so it just goes on. I’m inspired by Kanye West and Pharrell, these guys are leaders of my generation and they deserve a reward, if you ask me, for being the guys that stepped out of the norm and stepped out of what everybody felt was the comfort zone and really, like, express themselves as a whole. They weren’t holding back for what anybody thought, they just wanted to be artists. I just want to bring my perspective and share my story.”

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Hear what the hype is about and listen to Foreign Waters, “California Heaven,” and read more of Jahkoy’s story here.

This is original AMG content.

 

Hopsin: Savageville Tour Comes to San Diego

This show was crazy. It was unlike any other show I’ve ever reviewed, mainly because of the uniquely high level of interaction between Hopsin and the audience. He brought three volunteers on stage who claimed they could rap a verse of his classic Sag My Pants, crowd-surfed, and came to the edge of the stage and shook hands with everyone (myself included!) in the front row. I was particularly thrown off guard when he singled me out and spoke to me as part of a transition to a new song. He came to the edge of the stage, crouched down, and said to me, “I know you from somewhere, you look familiar.” He got a line of it wrong and messed up the transition, but his fans chanted his name “Hopsin! Hopsin!” signaling they were still having a great time.

He covered a wide variety of his music, which he pointed out before the show, saying he would because he ‘knew how it was from the fans’ perspective.” From Ill Mind 5, Pans in the Kitchen, I Need Help, to newer Ill Mind 8. His fan interaction portrayed that realness that he’s advocated since the beginning of his career. When he came down to shake everyone’s hand he even said, ‘Just to show you all this is real, no Hollywood bullshit.’ Being Hopsin’s main selling point, the crowd thoroughly enjoyed this.

One of the most unique things, which I’ve never seen before at any show, was bringing up members from the audience to sing Sag My Pants. Three guys volunteered to each sing a verse and then Hop and the crowd sang the chorus. Two of the guys did really well, and got to jump into the audience and crowd-surf. One guy was better at crowd-surfing than the other, and the other one fell at first—but got lifted up eventually. The third lyricist froze on stage, his girlfriend was standing next to me in the crowd and she said that it wasn’t a lack of memorization; just nerves. Still, Hopsin congratulated all of them at the end.

Some of Hop’s music is controversial (which is why we love it) and he was very respectful about it. For example, before singing Ill Mind 7, which is based on an internal monologue questioning the existence of God, Hopsin disclosed to the crowd that he was not meaning to offend anybody; that these were just his thoughts. As an outspoken Christian, his music sometimes conflictingly speaks on his devout faith in God and other times doubts His existence. Hop’s lyrics reflect very realistic virtues, as his opinions are always changing and he does not represent any one belief, which makes him relatable to many.

Hopsin ended his show with Bout the Business, after being enticed back on stage for an encore. His fans were more than loving; everyone was in ecstatic support. And he deserved it; he was incredible live. He rapped and sang every song exactly how it sounds on the tracks. The most impressive was how he kept rapping even while crowd-surfing! Flawlessly! Here’s to hoping he goes on tour again soon 🙏🏽

Once again, The Observatory was an awesome venue. We got to the line about an hour before the doors opened, and ended up standing right at the front, next to the stage. One thing they did, though, was brought on way too many openers. Hopsin’s openers were pretty good. Token was my favorite, he had great energy. But the San Diego area’s opening groups were just laughable and exhausting. Hopsin’s got some true fans to stick around through all of that!

But, all in all, The Observatory is always a great venue.

Pennsylvania Rapper Eric Will Shares Writing Tips, Challenges He’s Overcome, and How He Motivates Others

I spoke with Pennsylvania rapper Eric Will. He shares his journey of becoming a rapper and his true goal of inspiring others.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from, how you started, and what you’re about?

I’m from Easton Pennsylvania. I started back when I was 14 years old. I mean, I started when I was younger, I learned a few instruments and stuff, but then I got like a piano and I started to make like little hip hop beats with my friends, and from there we just kind of started writing stuff and doing like little recordings. My dad was really into music, so he got like a microphone setup and everything, so we would just mess around with little instrumentals and all that kind of stuff when I was 14. And then from there, me and him just kind of kept doing it and just working towards that, and it’s been quite a journey. I have so much more to learn and master my craft and stuff, but it’s just been an amazing journey so far.

When did your writing develop? You’re making these instrumentals, starting off with these beats, where did you find the inspiration to craft and write lyrics?

So me and my friend, we actually both started out with just freestyles. And then probably when I was about 15 or so I started to write my own stuff. I actually had like a whole book- a little book- with a bunch of words that like a rhyme together [laughs]. I would just go through the book and like write a song, it wasn’t anything great but it was little exercises to learn more rhymes and stuff like that. You know, it started when I was 14, but I feel like I didn’t really get extremely serious until I was like 17. That’s when I really started to sit down and produce and write, you know? My songs like really came together and my voice and my mind and who I am.

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IG @iamericwill

What changed? What made you think, ‘I need to sit down and get serious about this.’ What in your life made you come to that realization?

So, like, in high school, I had a few very close friends and they all kind of liked my stuff so they told me like, ‘dude, you should just keep pursuing it.’ And of course you have haters and stuff in the beginning, and they’re all trying to hold me back, but you know I feel like both ends of the spectrum -people that hated it and people that encourage me to do it- really like flipped the switch on me. And people were like, ‘dude, you should just keep doing it, just keep doing it,’ you know? I turned 17, I had a job, so I like went and bought everything so I could record my own stuff. That’s really what did it, was when I went out and bought all the recording stuff to help produce my own music.

What challenges have you faced along this road?

From people, of course. Everyone has an opinion on music and stuff. When I first started, you know, you’re never going to jump into anything you do and be like amazing at it. You know, a lot of people, when I first started, that were like ‘you shouldn’t do this and this and that,’ and everybody hated and stuff, so that was a huge thing. Getting over that barrier, passing that barrier, where everyone said I should stop. And, you know, it’s hard to keep doing something that everybody tells you, like, ‘no you shouldn’t do it anymore.’ So that’s definitely one challenge. And of course the money, you know, and going to school. I don’t know how it is down there, going to high school and stuff. Over here, going to high school, we can get up at 6 o’clock in the morning.

“So I’d go from 6 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night after work and then come home and try to write lyrics, it was crazy. That was definitely a huge challenge. But you know it’s that grind that you put into it I guess that really shapes it.”

Yeah, it’s your motivation that makes you stick out. That’s what holds people back and that’s what makes people stand out. So who are you working with right now? Or who have you worked with in the past?

I guess I’ll just start with like my management. I got a manager early this year, he’s an awesome guy. He really helps me out with all my promotions and stuff like that. I have a producer that I actually just recently got, his name is Homage, we are working on an album just recently. We just decided that we can definitely make something cool, so we just started just signing some contracts and stuff like that. I worked with Hi-Rez. I mean, he’s an awesome guy. He was kind of like the first big person that I got to work with and I remember messaging him- it was crazy- he got back to me right away, and I was like ‘oh my God’ [laughing]. He’s like one of my favorite artists for such a long time, since high school, so when we got to talking it was just awesome. Then he actually hooked me up one day with Emilio Rojas, and he’s an awesome guy too. We actually had a track as well, I plan on working with a few other artists in the future. I would like to maybe work with like Chris Webby, and I plan on working, down the road, again with Hi-Rez and Emilio, maybe working on a track.

So you talked about how you’re kind of in the process of a new album coming out, how far along are you?

We’re just planning it out right now. It’s going to be more like a mixtape, not like an album, like 7 to 9 songs, give or take. We’re still like planning the release date, I’m not a hundred percent sure what time. We’re looking at it right now, and in the next couple weeks I’ll definitely be able to give a timeframe for sure, and that’ll be released on my social medias and stuff. We are just planning stuff out and getting the feel. I definitely want to have like a trap-y and old-school feel, and really combine the two, almost two rap types.

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FB @ericwillofficial

Yeah definitely, that would be unique. What do you think about your style, or even your taste in music, makes you different than other hip hop artists?

I think what makes it unique, my style, is that I like to combine old school and trap, like I can do both, alternative rap, all these different types of rap, and I think that is a huge thing. I want to make stuff that, not only can you party to it, but when you’re alone and you listen to it, you can really sit down and be like, ‘Wow, he’s talking about this and it’s real stuff.’ I think is important to have that mixture and I plan to definitely in this album, I plan to have you know some songs that start off old school and then they go off into this trap vibe, and just really give it an awesome combination of two awesome types of rap. Just combine back in the 90s, to the early 2000’s, to now, 2016, 2015, and stuff.

That sounds like a good combination. So where do you find inspiration for lyrics that people can really get a message out of? From your life and your own personal observations and struggles, or what’s going on around you?

For the most part, right now, I take what’s going on around me, just things in my daily life. I like to reach into some of my old stuff [from] when I first started. My friend’s not really doing it any more, I know he kind of got into some trouble, but I like to reach back into that old stuff in my past. Stuff that I wanted to say back when I first started but I couldn’t or whatever, like to put it in now. For other songs I kind of see what’s going on around me, stuff like that.

What do you see around you, or other artists, or other people, things, in general; what really inspires you?

A lot of artists, like Logic. Old school Logic, and his new stuff, he really inspires me. Futuristic, Eminem, he’s come out recently with his new song, which was like crazy, crazy, crazy awesome. That kind of stuff inspires me, and then everything that’s just kind of going on in the world too. It’s just crazy, if you look at the news and stuff. I like to kind of tap into that, but put my own style into that. You know, like I said, talk about this real stuff but kind of put it onto a beat that people can party too, so it’s kind of like a subliminal message. You know, they’re partying to it, whatever, but they’re also understanding this is going on.

You get the best of both worlds in that. So what you see for the future?

For my future, I’d really like to reach out to maybe some labels and stuff like that, in the future. I mean, my main goal in all of this music, really, the reason why I even started in the first place, was just to inspire people to follow their dreams and their passions, and that they can do it and stuff like that. So definitely trying even more to get my music out there to connect to people that feel like they can’t do it and tell them that they can. I feel like that’s definitely a long-term goal that I would really love to share with other people. And of course, like, reach out to other labels and all that kind of stuff and then just build up my brand and everything.

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Listen to Eric Will on Youtube

Have you ever done any shows?

I have done a few. I’ve, so far, I’ve only done like college shows. I actually might have one coming up, I have to talk to my manager a little bit about it more. One in Maryland, and I might have something that’s coming up soon, but yeah. I have done a couple shows at Stroudsburg University and then a few stuff up there. I plan to do some stuff at Shippensburg University and just some more stuff hopefully up the East Coast and future, later on, down the West Coast.

What do you find different in recording your own song or performing for your friends, what do you find different about that from performing on stage in front of students and a bunch of people? Do you ever get nervous?

I definitely do get nervous. I think what’s really different, especially because I always do it in front of my friends and I can just do you so easily I guess, because they already know what I have to offer. When you go perform in front of, especially college kids, they’re like ‘all right what is this kid doing’ and then you get up there and they’re like ‘wow, it’s crazy, this kid’s like really spitting bars!’ And it’s definitely like the reaction of the crowd that really gives you like the confidence and stuff. You almost like feed off of it, it’s just awesome. It’s always nerve-racking, right before you go on, but once you get a song or two out it gets a lot easier. Definitely an adrenaline rush.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give someone so that they don’t give up on a dream like this?

I would just tell people, you know, if you believe, you got to believe in yourself. It’s your passion, it’s your love. If you have such a love for something never let it go. Just follow it, you know, and everything will come along with it. Don’t worry about the money, don’t worry about all that kind of stuff, as long as you follow your dream and your passion and your want for something that’s so strong, everything will come along with it, that’s just how it works. It’s important. I was actually just talking to a kid that messaged me today for advice on his music, and I said just believe in yourself.

“That’s the most important thing, and when people don’t believe in you, you gotta believe in yourself and your craft and do it for yourself ,and everything will come along with it.”

 

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Listen to Eric Will on SoundCloud

This is original AMG content.

 

Conscious Hip Hop Artist Ambro$e Speaks on Positivity, Drugs, Politics, and the Devolution of Rap Music

North Carolina-based artist Ambro$e from the group LYR1CVL & AMBRO$E

What does conscious hip-hop mean to you?

Music with a message. I just like to incorporate whatever I’m going through at the time, political issues, into the music. I definitely want to start doing more solo stuff, a lot of the stuff on SoundCloud is stuff I’ve done with Lyrical. But I have a lot of conscious music, and also some club music. I like to make music for everyone.

I think a lot of the criticism that rap gets today is about its lyrics and content. Do you think that’s true?

Yeah, I definitely agree. I think the image that a lot of the rappers today have is degrading towards women and certain minority groups, as far as sexuality goes, and I really feel like they like to up-play things that will get people f***** up out here [laughs]. It’s the government’s way of keeping things separate. I don’t necessarily agree with that, I make more of a message in my music for sure.

So what do you think you’re doing differently than other rappers, besides making music with a message?

Just being myself. I think I get inspiration from like Kendrick, J.Cole; people that are true to themselves with the music and you know just image-wise as well.

Yeah, what do you think about rap, modern, today, right now; what do you think about it?

I think it’s pretty embarrassing to be honest. I feel like most of it, like, if you’re not acting like a monkey on stage you don’t get really a lot of respect. A lot of who the media play, that are the largest, that you see on TV are just talking about nonsense. See T.I. is the perfect example. You know he started off making like real trap music, less conscious music just from his standpoint. You know, he grew up in a bad neighborhood so his music is set from that standpoint, but now it’s more political, more conscious on civil rights. Now that he’s coming to the conscious side of things, I definitely see him less in the spotlight of the media because he’s opening people’s minds with the music that he’s making now, and that’s not what ‘sells.’

“You know what I’m saying? It’s all about the sex image and how much weed you smoke and how many drugs you sell and how much money you have. But in reality, we should be focusing on what’s happening in the world today, you know, trying to be a positive light instead of just mucking it up even more than it already is.”

What do you think about the evolution of rap, compared to what it was in the 80s, 90s, even early 2000’s?

Honestly I think it’s devolved. I really admire people like Isaiah Rashad, J. Cole, Kendrick, because they are really speaking on what’s happening in their lives and what’s happening in society and they give solutions to those issues in their music. I feel like that’s one thing that Biggie didn’t do a lot of. Tupac definitely did, you know, he was a social activist. He had music that was more violent to suit a certain group of people, but I really think that was more of the label pushing him. I really think it’s devolved since then.

I want to talk about politics for a second, just because in one of your songs you get a little bit political. Since you’re trying to stay positive, how have you responded to the current political situation and how has it influenced your music?

Like in the song Can’t Find Love, we really just tried to open people’s minds to the ignorance that is everyday life in America. Racism is like the biggest issue I feel like in our country right now, just with political candidates, Republican and Democratic parties, that’s all they focus on is racial tension. I feel like the leaders today are trying to start a race war just for the sake of making money. It’s really sad; war is the biggest moneymaker in the world. A lot of people our age are like ‘I’m not trying to go vote because I don’t like Hillary or Trump.’ I feel like we don’t have a candidate that speaks for us. My fiancé is really into Jill Stein. I’ve been reading up on her a lot lately and even though the chances are really slim for her to win, I feel like if people got together and got behind her we could see some real change in the country. I just want to see a change in my lifetime; I want to be a voice for change and for the millennial group and younger.

How did you get started? When did you start rapping? How did you get into rap music, like what was your first experience with hip hop?

I grew up playing like hardcore metal; I played drums. My uncle is actually a really famous producer, he produced like Jay-Z’s first album Reasonable Doubt and I think the next two after that. He’s really the one who got me into hip-hop. I remember going to his house as a young kid and seeing all his Gold Records on the wall, like Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, DMX, all those iconic artists and just being able to sit in the studio and watch him work. He really inspired me; he gave me my first set of drums. That’s why I got started. And singing in church, I have always been in the choir or playing drums with the praise team. That was really the start—the church, and a lot of artists can relate to that.

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Yeah, I’ve actually heard that more than a few times. Do you find that influences your art?

Definitely, in every way. A lot of my music has that feel. You’ll hear biblical references, metaphors. What I find is that if people hear something familiar, it catches their ear even quicker. Which Chance is doing with his new album. He has a lot of biblical references in his art and I feel like it just makes it easier to catch people’s hearts, and that’s all I’m really here to do.

Another thing I noticed in your songs, like a lot of other rappers will try to maintain this image of them constantly partying and never sitting down and working on anything. But you, in some of your music, take a different approach and you talk about how hard and how much work it takes. That’s probably part of what you were saying earlier about how you just want to be real. When you push this message, are you trying to be honest or are you trying to be different?

I feel like being different is just being yourself. If you try too hard to be different, it seems fake. I just try to stay true to myself as much as possible.

As an artist, have you ever felt an ethical dilemma of having to conform to any kind of genre or needed to change your perspective or your attempt to be conscious in your writing, in order to make it easier to sell or easier to market?

Definitely. Every time I start writing a song, that’s the main thing on my mind. Depending on the mood that I get from the instrumental is really what determines that, or if I saw something on Facebook or the news that would piss me off one day, I just start writing and those are the songs that I really don’t give a f*** about, I just want marketability. I really just care about getting my feelings off my chest. Then I have songs like “Potion” that are written specifically for the radio. Everyone has that one song that you’re just trying to get on the radio that isn’t conscious; J.Cole’s was “Can’t Get Enough.” That one song that gets you in people’s ears, so they want to hear more.

Where do you think the line is? Is it just maintaining a balance so you can create something for your creative outlet and then something that’s going to be popular?

It definitely takes balance, that’s something I struggle with all the time because a lot of the ones that are really radio-friendly, I hate those songs. They’re genuine, but I never talk about stuff that is happening in my life or don’t agree with, but at the same time I want people to hear me. Sometimes I feel like people pay too much attention to the things that you hear [lyrics] in music, like ‘Ok, this dude smoke hella weed, I love to chill with him.’ I do smoke hella weed, that’s true, but at the same time there’s a reason behind it and I have a reason for everything I do. There are certain events that have happened in my life that have brought me to this point. In the music that speaks about that is what I really want you to pay attention to. You’re not getting the radio plays if you’re conscious.

“It’s all about how much drugs you do, how much money you make, how many women you got, and all of that needs to change.”

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New single “Potion” preview here

I just think it’s gotten so far from what it used to be and it could be so much better. There are definitely some artists out here legitimately trying to make a difference. It’s just mind-opening, seeing T.I. put out songs like “Peanut Butter Jelly” or “About the Money” getting millions of views, and then he puts out “Black Man” and all his other songs on his new album and they’re out for a month and have 40,000 views. People want something real but when they get it they can’t handle it [laughing]. They say ‘That’s too much, you’re saying too much,’ and ‘that’s all Black Lives Matter, I really don’t care about that,’ you know what I’m saying? People see what’s going on in the world and then they preach on Facebook how they want change but then when other people come out with music preaching that change they don’t support that music, they just want 21 Savage “I’m Flexin’ On My Ex Bitch.” You know? It’s a dope song, but at the same time it’s a shitty song, it’s just a distraction.

They don’t want to listen to something that would maybe teach them something or broaden their understanding right?

Yeah, it’d be nice if people wanted that, but all people want is entertainment. Sadly, knowledge isn’t always entertaining. It takes an intelligent person to appreciate music like that. That’s honestly why conscious music is not popular, because most of the world only wants a dope beat to shake their ass too and a catchy hook, and that isn’t everything. Music literally influences your everyday life. If hip hop wasn’t a thing, half of these guys selling drugs wouldn’t be doing it. That’s the suggestion that hip hop music plants in your head that causes these minority groups, along with segregation and other issues, but hip-hop music is huge. For that reason, the government actually has a hip hop task force where they go and catch rappers that rap about selling drugs, and a lot of these guys are stupid enough to be rapping about what they’re doing in their everyday life, like Bobby Shmurda. It was a dope song, but it got five of his homeboys locked up, and he’s in prison for 7 years. He’s only in for 7 years because he snitched on everybody else. Music is dangerous; it can be a very dangerous weapon used in the wrong way, and I feel like it can be just as positive used in the right way. You saw a lot of that in the sixties and seventies, with the Beatles and other iconic groups. They preached positivity and all their fans started the hippie movement, and the government was like ‘Hippies? You’re selling drugs to American teenagers,’ when in reality all they’re trying to do is promote peace with herbs that legitimately help people, like weed. By making them illegal you make it so people want to fight over those resources, you make it so people want to kill each other over those resources. It’s literally the War on Drugs that is the issue. Not to say that all drugs are good, I’m speaking out about weed specifically, because I feel like Big Pharma does more damage than weed will ever do. They’ll get you hooked on Heroin by calling it oxycodone. All of these drugs that are meant to help you at the end of the day only hurt you; they help you take away the pain momentarily, but then you want more and more and more until you’re not even hurting but you still want those drugs, and that turns people into crack heads. It’s a trap. The real trap is not drugs; it’s pharmaceutical companies.

Looking at your future, do you think you’re going to stay on this conscious track? Do you want to keep doing this? You talked a little bit about going more solo, but is there anything else that you’re looking to in the future?

I definitely want to promote the conscious image. I definitely still want to have radio bangers, something people know, just like Drake. Drake has mainstream songs and then he has super conscious music at the same time. It may not be about social change and civil change, but it’s conscious in the fact that he really talks about his life. He’s not rapping about stuff he’s not doing. I feel like really what people relate to are people who are like Bryson Tiller, who just talk about what’s going on in their everyday life, because their problems are problems that everyone has. The more you try to relate to people, the more positive it’s going to be, that’s why Chance the Rapper is where he is with no label backing him. In the future, I would like to stay independent, but I don’t have the pull that Chance the Rapper does, so eventually I’m probably going to have to end up signing. But when I do, I’d like it to be to a label like Fool’s Gold, Awful Records, TDE, conscious labels like that. You might make less money doing that, but I’d rather be doing what I love. You know? You might make more money in a 9-5 corporate job, but I’d rather make less money doing this.

Listen to a preview of Ambro$e’s latest single, “Potion”, here.