By Jake Bourey (aka Hip-Hop Fights Back)
– Your new album Falling Into Place dropped in October. How has the overall response been so far? Is it what you expected?
Yeah it’s been real nice. It debuted at #2 here in N.Z and the single and album are still top 10 after a month so I’m happy. I was actually surprised how quickly people gravitated to the record, thought it might be more of a challenge for people being that it’s a different sound from the last album and from a lot of what’s goin on at the moment.
– There are a lot of phenomenal new school hip-hop artists that have been hitting the scene hard in recent years, including Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. Do you have any favorites that come to mind?
Yeah I like both Kendrick and Cole. I’d say probably Drake and K.R.I.T are probably my favourites of the new wave, just as far their overall projects and their songwriting. Gibbs been killin it too.
– What do you see as the biggest differences/similarities between the hip-hop cultures of New Zealand and the United States?
Just size more than anything. I always tell people in the U.S the overall hip hop scene down here is really similar, just on a much smaller scale. We have an underground scene, student radio stations with underground hip hop shows, NZ hip hop blogs, open mic nights etc. Yet we still have a mainstream scene with more commercial leaning acts, commercial urban radio stations and all that.
– Given that you’re signed to Duck Down Music, which is an incredibly influential label in underground hip-hop, what are your feelings towards the current state of mainstream rap in the United States?
I feel like it’s better than it’s been in years. With dudes like Kendrick, Drake and Cole being commercially accepted you’re seeing dudes that can really rap be some of the biggest artists in music. That wasn’t neccesarily the case even 5 or 6 years ago.
– I really enjoy both of your collaborations with Freddie Gibbs, especially your 2013 single My Mentality. How did you initially link up with him? Are you planning on doing another collaboration in the future?
My manager Andy and Freddie had a mutual friend. Andy hit me up and was like ‘you heard Freddie Gibbs, wanna try do and a track with him?’, I was already a fan so it was a no brainer to reach out. We first worked together on ‘Caught In A Daze’ on my last album and that turned out dope, so getting him to jump on ‘My Mentality’ just felt like a natural thing. Seems like a weird fit on paper, but on both tracks there’s just a real nice contrast between our flows/voices – shit just works. Aside from that he’s a cool dude, always down to work with him.
– On the last track of Falling Into Place titled The Gate, you illustrate the emotional tribulations that come with having to constantly travel for your career. What methods have you found to best cope with this?
- Skype is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Outside of that I just think about the fact that I’m fortunate to be doing anything off the back of music. Music doesn’t owe me shit – I could be sitting at a desk 9-5 or lugging around traffic cones or something, I just try to keep that in the fore front of my mind and make the most of the chances I’m given.
– Who are some artists and producers that you aspire to work with one day?
- If I could sit down with any of them G.O.A.T producers like Dre, Neptunes, Timbo and just pick their brains in the studio for a day that’d be the shit.
– On your song Follow (track nine of Falling Into Place) you state, “Growing up in AK, where they don’t forget their rugby boots. Didn’t play much 5/8th. I would play way more Kurupt and Snoop, play way more Mobb Deep and Wu.” In addition to these, what other music did you grow up listening to, and how do you think it shaped your overall perception of hip-hop?
- Outkast. Nas. Pac. The Roots. Bone Thugs. Jay-Z – All that good shit. I guess being from NZ, down here we never had any regional bias that a U.S listener might have. I was happy with WHATEVER rap I could get my hands on, so it wasn’t a thing to be thrashin a Juvenile album then start listening to Styles P or Jada ya know. I was just hungry for any hip hop music and could appreciate whatever.
– Do you have an all time favorite musician or band?
- Jay and Kanye would be up there overall for their longevity. But as far as just strongest impact on my life at any point – Snoop circa Doggystyle and Mobb Deep circa The Infamous/Hell On Earth.