Aware of this talented rapper for a number of years, I jumped at the chance to talk with him on literature, his MTV show, his influences, touring and his forthcoming debut album.
A lot of people would have heard of you through your MTV show 'Lyricist Lounge'. It was really popular in the circles I'm in and people are wondering, will it ever return?
The lyricist Lounge Show will probably never return. I say probably because I feel it will come back as another show under the influence, but not the same title.
I seem to remember you freestyling on a segment of the TV show. I was pretty blown away if my memory serves me correct. How enjoyable is freestyling compared to rhyming something pre-written and which do you prefer?
Yeah, at the end of every show we did an impromptu freestyle. I enjoy the spontaneity of non-written rhymes, but I rather say a written which is well thought out in a song.
People seem scared to smile a lot of the time in hip-hop. Are you a firm believer in the music being about enjoyment or do you see room for the deep issues? And what kind of balance should there be?
I'm not afraid to smile, but a lot of hip hop deals with serious issues. There is enjoyment in being able to make people move and nod, while they listen to what you're saying. As far as balance I don't think there's a need for balance regarding enjoyment and deep issues. I believe people enjoy whatever music they are making.
Although focusing on solo projects for now, will there be a moment in time when you hook back up with Punch for some more great Punch n' Words material?
Punchline is on my solo album on a cut called Not Fair. Regarding a Punch and Words album; maybe in the near future.
Do you know what he's up to at the moment or if there's a label or site fans can find out from?
Punch is working on some solo material, not sure when that will come out. There's no site that can hit him up at though, yet.
I read that you've studied English Literature. A lot of kids sigh when the teacher talks of poetry. Surely hip-hop is the most fruitful of methods for teaching young people about it?
I have a degree in English Literature, and found that poetry actually helps me develop my writing skills. Poetry is cool; some M.C.'s are poets and use poetical techniques to write. Hip-hop is definitely a great way to teach kids about poetry, because the youth listen to the music.
What are some of your favorite writers and influences from the world of literature which you can say have made an impact on the music you write?
Donald Goines is a great writer that influenced my writing. Goines is very graphic and able to get his point across vivid and original. I read Shakespeare plays, and was into the metaphors and cadences used.
Are you 100% a poet in the sense that you just rap or one day do you think we'll find you on the bookshelf?
I'm not a poet in the sense of solely hearing me acapella, but some may be able to hear the influence in the writing. One day, you will definitely see me on a book shelf.
If it's possible, could you narrow down to a short list of some of the most important MC's and hip-hop acts who gave you the boost to want to rap yourself?
Some of the most important people that made me want to rap: Melle Mel, Kool G. Rap, Masta Ace, Big Daddy Kane, Run-D.M.C
A lot of people are really excited about your forthcoming album 'Mirror Music'. Could you let us in on it and tell us what can be expected?
My solo album Mirror Music is a narrative, head nodding, reflection of several perspectives on life. It has storytelling, personal experiences, and a gist of looking thru the eyes of the audience and what they go thru. You definitely will enjoy every song.
Is, as the title suggests, a substantial amount of the record going to be of an autobiographical nature?
Yeah, the album is pretty autobiographic and allows people to look or in other words listen to the 'Mirror' and see themselves. Songs like Be a Man, Trust, Run, and Shoulder give you a dose of reality.
Which producers have you worked with and are there any guest spots? Do you produce much of your stuff yourself?
Producers on my album include Ayatollah, Da Beatminerz, Oddisee, Curt Gowdy,Sebb, Dave Dar, Belief, Frequency, R.thentic, and The Courts Productions. I like to call them the future of producing. I haven't produced yet, but will one day. As far as guests, Punchline, Masta Ace, Justin Time, Adanita Ross, Meleni, and the home team Oddisee and Kenn Starr.
What would you say has been your most enjoyable moment doing what you do so far? Be it a show…song…
The most enjoyable thing I've done thus far has been making the music and hearing it loud during a show.
Do you do much touring and is there any chance that us UK fans will get to see you live at some point soon?
I tour pretty often and would love to come out to the U.K. Right now not sure, but let me know and I'm there.
What's been the best place that you've toured and do you find much difference between crowds throughout the world?
Overseas I really enjoy a lot, because they appreciate it, not sure but all the countries over there I like rocking. In the states, I went on tour and although crowds are a bit more stubborn at times, I love rocking with them because they make you earn your due.
What do you think about the general state of hip-hop and the music industry in 2004?
I think Hip Hop is evolving and it's gonna have its up's and downs, but I think its having some more up's because it's allowing more diversity. In 2004, the music industry will see more independents just get distribution deals and ask for more contractual rights. Artists will also have a bit more rights, understanding they create their music.
Do you think things are gonna get a lot messier or do you see light at the end of the tunnel, and what could be done to put the twisted state of affairs straight?
Things have to get worse before better, but even when you think things are cool there's always something foul going unseen. So honestly the more mistakes, the better things will get.
I really appreciate the time you've taken out to look this over.