Vulkan the Krusader interview

I conducted this in-depth interview with New York artist Vulkan the Krusader. Vulkan is one of my favourite rappers right now; his progressive production, emotionally honest lyrical content, and mature sound make him one of NYC’s best prospects. It’s obvious from his answers that he is cut from a different cloth then many modern day emcees. We covered quite a few topics, including Vulkan’s childhood influences, vendettas, and upcoming musical projects.

How did you choose “Vulkan the Krusader” as your stage name? Did you go through any other names before deciding on Vulkan the Krusader?

Naw, I got the name when I was 15 in High School, it really has nothing to do with music actually, basically Vulkan was spaced out like I was in High school but it was mostly cuz I had a short fuse and in Vulkan means Volcano in Spanish. The Krusader part is basically from a friend who was a graph writer who said I spoke like some sort of Crusader when I talked. The big ears and Mr. Spock reference is always there though, which is why it got me heated as a kid.

What sort of music did you grow up with before getting into hip-hop?

I grew up as child in the 80’s and teen in the 90’s and a grown man in this new millennium. My father played 80’s music all the time when I grew up, my mother played a lot of Spanish ballads. My father use to break dance and the first hip-hop song I remember listening to was “Planet Rock”. My father called it Disco Music. I love all 80’s era, House music, new wave stuff. That’s the shit that really hits my upbringing.

Do you come from a musically conscious family?

My Father is the least musically inclined person, but he loves music just as do I. My mom wasn’t that into music either, but she was as good a dancer as my father. Music is in my blood though; my grandfather is a flamenco guitarist who has written over 10,000 songs for my grandma (laughs). He is really something to watch on that guitar. My dad’s family is rich with musical performers; my uncle Carlos and uncle Chico had a band that kind of was like “Los Angeles Negros” of Nicaragua. My Uncles played lead guitar and drums. My dad was the only one who didn’t play anything, he was more into cars and mechanics but was always around them when they played and got play, feel me.

What artists inspired you to start rapping?

Honestly it was A Tribe Called Quest. It started with them; as a child listening to them I thought, “I can do this”. As a kid I was a great performer and poet. I used to do this stupid stand up routine for my book reports in front of the class. I was never stage shy or any of that. I would always try to be the lead in a play or be the leader of the pack when it came to organizing drama. Even of the basketball court I was trying to take the lead. So when it came to rapping I was also a center of attention in my high school, as I had amazing rapid fire flow and everyone wanted to battle me when wasn’t playing basketball or doing hood rat shit with my friends.

 When did you first start rapping?

High School, I was known as that dude in rapping back then, The Miami rap scene was really small. I an Eminem’ish flow back then (laughs), but see, I was living that life back then as well. Very chaotic times for me as a teenager. I was part of the cool kids, but at the same time I didn’t want to be a cool kid. High School was the battle days, I could not write a song to save my soul though, I kinda knew this about myself when I rhymed. I knew that battle rhymes really didn’t last in the industry.

Where do you draw inspiration for you music?

Life man, the ever changing prospect of challenges we face as men in this world. I’m coming into this late, and probably at the prime of my musical ability. I’m Danny Brown’s age (laughs) feel me? So it comes with a mature touch but at the same time I’m having fun while I make the music. My inspiration is those moments where you ask yourself, “Can I do it?”, “Can I change the world, even when the world don’t wanna change?” “Can I become successful?”, “Can my family respect the craft?” Money is never the motive but you damn sure need to get paid for your art. I’m just a small time artist trying to get his share of the pie in this world. And of course my inspiration is also the lifestyle I lead of course; I live in a very small circle of people, all trying to get on, all stepping over each other, trying to grab the same thing. The problem is, most of them don’t know see that they aren’t built for it. My inspiration is the basis, simple human emotions of fear, anger, love, despair, vanity, and lunacy.

I find it difficult to categorize your style with one label. How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I’m what you get when you mix Depeche Mode, Wu-Tang, Three 6 Mafia and fully functioning entertaining delivery.

You talk about a possible criminal past in your music; “selling cocaine in the Miami tropics”. Did you deal or is this just a lyrical device?

That’s just me telling you what Miami Lifestyle is about in a more raw form, I ain’t no dealer or nothing like that. Lets just say I was a broker and enabler in my time in Miami.

Your lyrical content is really diverse, yet you always stay true to “for fun sake”. Can you explain what the “for fun sake” philosophy means and where is came from?

That’s my affiliation in Brooklyn New York, the 4FUNSET founded by my friend Hood Chef, just a rag tag crew of nobodies who all rap pretty good. Other than it being a group of friends who rap, the ideals behind it are more true; just be yourself and have fun with what you do. In essence that’s what it means to me when I say it. I do it all, it’s an astronaut’s way of living.

Your album “V for Vendetta” features a lot of samples from the movie “V for Vendetta”. What inspired you to do this? Do you see yourself as similar to V from the movie?

You hit on something not a lot of people capture from that, I do look at myself like him. A man no one knows about, a man against a machine, that is an idea, not just flesh and bone. A man who, by himself, can take the industry by force, and believes in himself, staying true to his morals and respect code. The one who is not afraid, the one wallows in a agony at times, but also the one who brings faith and joy to the masses. In this, I find myself the hip-hop equivalent to the man they called “V”. His mask plays a vital role in what I think is going on in hip-hop. I was looking at New York City wondering, “what is this?” Only a few artist I knew had it in them, another sub group of nobodies who became the revolutionaries, like my friend Rakim (A$AP Rocky) or Worldsfair from Queens who been hustling since god knows when, Action who was a chef, or Mr. Muthafucking Esquire who was dogged for years by the industry and even more to come. Rocky kicking down the door, was the start of a revolution. I’m happy it’s here for everyone to witness. We are the dreamers of the dreams and the creators of imagination now. I don’t have a spotlight yet, but I’m sure my hard work will pay off one day. Or I’ll have to resort to terrorist tactics like V for Vendetta (laughs).

You talk about your distaste for the music industry as it is today; “Industry people are fucking shady”. Can you elaborate on this?

I know many people in the music industry who don’t’ take chances. One guy I really believe in is Nigil Mack from Univeral; he believes in progression. The Industry changes people as well, makes people paranoid. Makes people feel like everyone is fake, but in their hearts they know who’s real and who’s not. Sometimes the music that is picked up comes from artist who really ain’t gonna last for a long time. I feel like at times they don’t know what the fuck they doing. But hey, like I said, a lot of my friends finally got recognition, so the change is here, and now more and more, diverse emcee’s and hip hop acts are proving, “hey we can make money, we work hard, we wanna feed our families, Just give me the platform my nigga”. Other than that, the music is a shady grey area where money makes the heart evil at times.


The first track of V for Vendetta features a track by BSBD. Do you plan on collaborating with them in the future?

I’ve loved Blue Sky Black Death so long, I asked Kingston if he can take certain part of the noir album and loop some things so I can rap on them. I’m all about progressive, melodic, harmonious and triumphant sounding music. I will be working with them on something very soon, I might release something with some of their sounds next month.

What do you think about the current state of hip-hop, specifically the NYC scene?

The NYC scene is great right now. All my friends are getting their just dues from great art they have made and are leading the new generation into the right direction. The artistic integrity is there again, the production is better and the song writing is amazing right now. I love where its’ going, I can only hope my upcoming projects get that love and stamp of approval I need to really make an impact in peoples lives. 

How important are music blogs to you personally and for hip-hop?

They are the world to me, I make music I like myself feel me? Like I listen to my shit over and over cuz I like it. So I’ve been on some pretty big blogs, here and there, but not a full on love session on release day or anything like that. I’m still very unknown and paying my dues. They are very important, from Smoking Section to Onsmash, to 2dopeboyz, to getting music out there. I’m more into Fader and Pitchfork because my sound is so diverse and I also listen to shit other than hip-hop. But those music outlets will define where you go in the world. I just need to release the material and hope it gets to the right hands, so I can put on a amazing display of hand gestures on stage when I rap.

What has been the hardest part of being a rapper?

Dealing with people on an everyday basis and dealing with failure and dealing with the dreaded gas face you get when people roll their eyes (laughs). There’s a million of them in NYC, so being new is like, a fighting battle with a giant beast. There’s alot of bullshit out there. I find it hard nowadays to reach out to my friends who are on, and get some insight from them, but its all grind bro. Real nigga shit. The hardest thing is being heard, that’s it.


What is your favorite part of being a rapper?

Creating is my favorite part, shooting visuals, making a dope song with a dope chorus, or an amazing beat. That’s my favorite part, that right there is my love for it. I love performing, I love listening to music, I love the whole creation process and what it gives me; the freedom of being myself and inspiring others, or just making you mad or feeling great about a song. Triumph is what I want. When I get that, my favorite part will be throwing hundreds into a crowd.

What has been the single greatest moment of your rap career?

I haven’t experienced it yet, to be honest, I want greatness I just need to work for it, cuz I hear greatness when I record.

Who to look out for today, locally and nationally?

Without saying the Astronauts (4FUNSET) Vinny D’Wayne, Dom O Briggs, Scienze, A$AP Nast & Ferg, Twelvy,J eff Donna, Cody B. Ware, Skotch Davis, Noah Caine, Slim Dollars, Rich- P,L.A.,OG Chess, and Beautiful Lou. Production wise, I would say BBR+, Ryan Hemsworth, DA, Kodak to Graph, and DJ Buttamilk my right hand man.

What are you currently working on?

I didn’t get to release visuals for V for Vendetta cuz my father is was sick, but now everything’s cool and I can finally get to making these visuals, might even make one for the Lucy Naive mix tape. I’m releasing a song Praise very soon where I rap over some Purity Ring and working on the third project called V that drops Valentines day, next year V-DAY.

Information on Vulkan the Krusader can be found below (click links to be redirected):


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Wizdom interview

I got the chance to interview Seattle’s own Wizdom. Wizdom has been putting out projects yearly since 2007. That kind of consistency is hard to find in today’s hip-hop atmosphere. We talked about his musical foundation, influences, his latest project, and his upcoming album. The interview I did with him is a exclusive, click the link below to be redirected:

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Shady Blaze interview

I interviewed Oakland rapper Shady Blaze. I first heard Shady Blaze on Deniro Farrar’s DESTINY.altered and was hooked; smooth voice, meaningful lyrical content,  ill production, and mind blowing rapid fire flow are all characteristic of Shady Blaze. We covered his music, upbringing, Michael Jackson, Green Ova, politics, and a number of other topics.

How did you decide on the stage name Shady Blaze?

At first my name was Velocity, but I switched to Shady Blaze when I made my Twitter. I was working on my first mixtape ever, which was going to be called The Shady Blaze Mixtape. Shady came from where I was raised. I was raised in Oakland off of 89th Avenue, which is known as the 80’s, or the Shady 80’s. Blaze was from my friends telling me I had hot beats… also, I used to smoke a lot.

Used to?

(Laughs) Shit I’m smoking right now! Anyway, I put the two together and got Shady Blaze. I didn’t want to put any numbers in my name on Twitter, which I would have had to do with Velocity, so I just put Shady Blaze. Next thing you know, everybody on Twitter started calling me Shady Blaze so I just went with that.

What sort of music did you grow up with before getting into hip-hop?

I don’t want to be ashamed of this, but to be honest I was really into Michael Jackson. I used to get a lot of hate from my friends growing up in Junior High who were listening to No Limit, Master P and all of them while I was talking about Michael Jackson.

I’ve heard that you wanted to be a singer before you got into rap. When did you decide to switch to rapping?

Back when I was nine, all I listened to was Michael Jackson. To me, there were no other artists out there; I wouldn’t listen to anything people showed me. I wanted to do all the dances like him, I wanted to sing like him, I basically wanted to be him. I moved from 3rd Avenue in East Oakland to 89th Avenue, and my friends on 89th there were into hip-hop. At first I didn’t really like hip-hop, but they were all rapping and I wanted to fit in with my friends at the time. It grew on me though. I started watching all the music videos and I got hooked.

Which emcees inspired you to start rapping?

Too $hort and Juvenile, the old school stuff though. When I was a little kid, Too $hort was hard to me because I didn’t know hip-hop that well. As I got better I realized that Too $hort was kind of falling off (laughs).

Do you rap full time?

Right now I’m rapping full time. It’s nice but I’m not making that much money off of it.

You have a very distinctive rapid-fire flow, yet you can (and do) slow it down when you want to. How did you develop this versatility?

I started out as a slow rapper. I learned from Too $hort and Juvenile and they weren’t really doing any fast rap. Juvenile turned me on to Cash Money, and I was the kind of kid who would choose artists and listen to them and nobody else; first with Michael Jackson, then with Cash Money. I started buying all the Lil Wayne, Big Tymers, and B.G. albums. I would take my CD player to school with one of those CD’s and let my friends borrow it. One day I was on the way to school in my mom and step dad’s car and my friend has forgot to put the CD back in. I was all pissed off and looking for something to listen to, and I found a CD lying around in the car and it was Bizzy Bone’s Heaven’z Movie. I put that it and his spittin was crazy to me, how fast he was going. I was 14 at the time and it took over from there. I started trying to rap fast like him and I grew onto the rest of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

You go over a lot of different kinds of beats, from keyboard to sample-based progressive. What drives you to continue experimenting with different sounds?

I make music for myself. If I keep doing the same thing on tracks or rapping on the same type of beats I get bored, I ask myself “Why am I doing this shit?” It would be a whole different story if I was getting paid to do the same thing over and over again (laughs); I would make the same shit and keep getting more bread. Working with a lot of different producers allows me to change up my style. I can do different flows and rap about different subjects. Hearing all these different kinds of beats gives me different feelings. It doesn’t even madder to me if the producer is big or not. A lot of artists today only care about fan base, they don’t give these young producers a chance. If the music sounds good to me, I’ll go over it.

You’re a part of Green Ova records. What is Green Ova all about?

Green Ova is basically about getting paid and surviving. It’s about loyalty and family. There are five of us; Squadda B and MondreM.A.N are Main Attrakionz, Dope G, LoLo, and myself.

You work a lot with east coast rapper Deniro Farrar. How did you guys link up?

His manager hit me up on Facebook and wanted me to listen to one of Deniro’s songs called “NWO”. He asked me what I thought about it and I was like, “it’s good”. He asked me, “do you really like it?” like he was trying to get me on it, so I just asked him if he wanted me on it and he said hell ya. I really felt what Deniro was getting at with the song, the political aspect of it. I’m not going to say I’m a big political rapper, but I definitely do some political rapping. I know a lot of people don’t fuck with that political shit because they think it’s boring, so it doesn’t really sell. At the same time though, I do it all; if I feel like something really needs to be said I’ll tell it like it is in my songs

What do you see as wrong with politics in this country?

Everything! It’s crazy how athletes and entertainers, people who don’t do anything, get paid more than all the people who are working their asses off doing what needs to be done. There is so much wrong with this country; I see it but I’m only one person so there isn’t a lot I can do. The only thing I can do is rap about the injustices I see.

What do you see as wrong with the rap game today?

A lot of artists are doing some serious bullshit to get publicity. People are buying followers on Twitter, that shit is crazy. They are paying good money for followers who don’t even fuck with their music. I’ll be damned if I do some shit like that.

What has been the most difficult part of being a rapper?

The criticism. I’ve met Danny Brown and Main Attrakionz, and they both get a lot of hate and they can take it. Me on the other hand, I get kind of offended by it. I got to learn how to just deal with it. When I’m on the microphone, on stage, and doing my videos, I go all out, so when somebody talks down on me I get pissed off because they don’t understand. That makes me understand though. You know Lil B? I used to hate on his music a lot, I thought his rapping was garbage. Now, I can relate to the criticism thing, so I see it how it is. They are going through five times the hate I am and are keeping their heads up. Nobody wants to understand; people just talk about who has the best flow, the best punch lines, the best beats rather than trying to understand somebody’s life and what they are trying to put out there with their music. 

What has been the most memorable moment in your rap career?

Definitely my first time rapping on stage. My first show was with Main Attrakionz; it was their show but I was opening up for them. Hearing the crowd’s reaction when I started fast rapping was cool.

What does the future hold for Shady Blaze?

A lot more rap. A lot more weed. A lot more drinking. A more videos. A lot more shows. I honestly don’t know what my future holds as far as rap goes. I see how all these other rappers make it, and I don’t see myself doing the shit they are doing. I’m a regular ass dude. I wear big ass clothes and shit, everybody else wearing skinny jeans and small clothes, making me feel outdated. I would like to turn this rap shit into a career, but I know rap isn’t forever. A lot of rappers talk about rap being forever, but it ain’t. You can be an old ass rapper but you ain’t gunna sell (laughs). I’m afraid being true to myself is what might prevent me from blowing up. A fan commented on some blog that, “Shady Blaze is the best rapper in Green Ova, but he is the only one with no swag”. I was like “damn bro, what the fuck does that mean?” (laughs). It feels like I can’t make it as a rapper in this generation. I’m gunna rap my ass off though. I’d love to make some money off of this shit and then get on some businessman type shit. To make money with this generation, you gotta do some stupid ass shit. I gotta have somebody with a good ear to discover me and get me that shine I deserve.

Information on Shady Blaze can be found below (click links to be redirected):

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Gift of Gab interview

Skip to 1:43 for Gift of Gab’s verse

I was lucky enough to conduct 21 year old Seattle native Gift of Gab’s first interview. We talked about backyard rap sessions as a child, her gift of gabbing, Moorgang, and her future musical projects. If you don’t know her now, you will soon enough. I have never heard a female emcee on Gab’s level, and I seriously doubt that you have either. 

How did you get the name Gift of Gab?

My name is Gabrielle. Gift of Gab came from always been a big talker; I used to get in trouble at school for talking all the time. People would say, “she got the gift of gabbin”.

What sort of music did you grow up with?

I was brought up on all the old shit; Prince, Kool and the Gang, Lionel Richie. All the old school hip-hip and R&B.

Was your family big into music?

My dad’s side not so much, but my mom’s side, the black side, was. I was brought up singing in church.

When did you first start rapping?

I always used to sing along with raps I heard when I was really little. My home girl Keshia, who is like a sister to me, lived two houses behind me so we would rap to each other from our backyards. We would rap about food and stupid shit like that.

Who was it that inspired you to start rapping?

I started rapping on my own, not so much because other rappers inspired me. I’m a big fan of Eminem; every time I listened to him I would get super hyped up and wanted to write shit. Listening to good music my whole life was my inspiration I guess.

When did you join Moorgang?

Sometime last year, can’t give you an exact date. I met Jesse (Nacho Picasso) officially for the first time last year. My big brother and Jesse grew up together but I don’t remember him from back then. He heard some of my shit one day when I was with his cousin Julian and he was like “you’re hella filthy”. I started kickin it with him, and one day Jesse and Jarv (Jarv Dee) sat down with me one day and were like “Yup, we need you to be a part of the gang”.

What do you do when you aren’t rapping?

Kick it with my Moorgang niggas. We’re all really close friends, so when we aren’t rapping we are together doing something.

Have you dropped any complete projects yet?

The music I have recorded is with whoever’s house I recorded it at, some of it got lost when my computer crashed, and some of it is on Youtube so it’s scattered. I’m working on my EP right now, which will be done by the end of September.

What can we expect from your EP?

Well I’ll be dropping a single at the beginning of September, which will give fans a better idea of what to expect. I’m trying to get a video together so I can drop that. I got a show at Rendezvous with my homebody Raz, who is headlining, on September 1st. I got a feature on my album with Coolio Da Unda Dogg, who used to rap with Mac Dre. He’s a bay area artist, and he fucks with me and I fuck with him so that’s a good look right there. Got features with Nacho, Jarv, Steezie if we can get him in the studio. It’s gunna be filthy. Oh, and I got features with Sam Lachow.


Are you working on anything else right now?

Moorgang is working on our compilation album. I can’t really give a timeframe for that, but that will be coming up soon.

You’ve developed quite the fan base without even dropping an album. Why do you think that is?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I think people are ready to hear a good female rapper come out of Seattle. I’m well connected, so I guess niggas found out that Gabby is rapping and I guess they are fucking with me. That’s a good question though, I would like to ask the people that myself. It’s crazy that hella people are fucking with me and I don’t even have that much music out.

Is it difficult being a female artist in a genre that is predominantly male?

Honestly, I feel like it is way easier for the simple fact that I am a girl and, not to be cocky, am good at what I do. Everybody’s a rapper nowadays; how many times you walking around and somebody tries to sell you a CD and it’s just some dude rapping from somewhere. I think people are ready for a good female emcee, especially the ones that hate Nicki Minaj. I can’t say I hate her, but I don’t fuck with her image or her style. I think that people who actually appreciate good emceeing will be happy to hear me. Especially coming out of Seattle, we need that.

What do you think makes the Town rap scene unique?

All us Seattle rappers come together. Any other place, New York, California, it’s a competition. Sir Mix A Lot is literally the biggest rapper to come out of Seattle, so we don’t have that competition. When we go to shows we all kick it; you can find at least 20 Seattle artists chillin. Once one of us gets on, we all get on.

Information on Gift of Gab can be found below (click links to be redirected):

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Deniro Farrar interview

I got to have a extended conversation with one of my favorite artists Deniro Farrar. We discussed politics, jail, addiction, and of course his musical pursuits past, present, and future. I learned a lot from this interview and  had a great time talking with Deniro. He’s a super down to earth dude who knows how to joke around but isn’t afraid to talk about the hard stuff. Big ups to his manager Konstantin for helping facilitate our talk.

What sort of music do you enjoy other than hip-hop.

I’m a fan of oldies music. A lot of old soul music like Marvin Gay and Al Green. I am also big on Laura Hill, John Legend, Adele, and FrankOcean.

Did you grow up in a musically conscious home?

Not really man. I was one of those kids who always knew every song on the radio, and my mom would tell me, “If you knew your academics like you knew these songs you would be alright”. She was never against music, but she was more focused on education. She would try to censor music; she didn’t like the cursing. I had gotten into Three Six Mafia real heavy at one point so she was not happy with me listening to that shit, so I had to hide that shit from her. My love of music wasn’t the result of my family or any of that shit, although I started listening to rap through my older brother. He would go out and buy CD’s and we shared a room so when he was gone I would listen to all of his rap CD’s; Master P, Tupac, Three 6 Mafia. From there I went out and started finding my own artists.

What stage names did you go through before deciding on Deniro Ferrar?

I went through a bunch. You know how in elementary school you wanna be a fire fighter one minute and a ball player the next? I was like that with stage names. I was The General, Mr. Swag, stupid shit like that. I landed on Deniro, and I didn’t plan on adding the Farrar. This guy David Luddy who I was recording with when I first started rapping told me that Deniro wasn’t good because if you Google it you would get a shit ton of other famous people. He saved a song we did under Deniro Farrar and he kept doing that shit and I told him to stop and that I didn’t want Farrar on the end of my name. But he kept doing it and it stuck, so I just embraced it. People were curious and would ask me how I came up with Farrar, so I guess it worked out alright.

When did you start rapping and what were you doing before then?

This is my second year. I dropped Feel This November 19th 2010, so not even two years yet. Before that I never thought of myself as a rapper. I thought I had the talent to rap but I was afraid to live out the dream and was just trying to stay afloat. I would do little odd jobs here and there, but mainly I was busy hustling.

So in less than two years you went from beginning you rap career to doing shows with a number of huge artists (opening for Mike Poser, NAS, Damien Marley, Public Enemy, Wale, Chiddy Bang, performing with BIG K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, and Curren$y on the Smokers Club tour, Wiz Khalifa’s Wake in Bake tour, and SXSW in Austin, Texas). How did you manage all that?

That was all a blessing man. A lot of that I owe to my manager Konstantin; besides my musical ability, he played the biggest role in making all that happen. I won’t say I didn’t deserve to play all those shows, but I had no resume. I had just dropped Feel This and was touring with fucking Wiz. All that shit was a daydream. When I was on tour with Wiz I was still a fan, bumping Kush and OJ. It was crazy, but I was just soaking everything up. I watched how the big rappers manoeuvred off stage, how they interacted with other people, and a lot of them (I won’t name names) were kind of dick heads to fans. I observed how people absorbed the fame they had and if they let it get to their head or not so that I could handle myself if I get to their position. I was really humble, that nigga in the corner watching all the shit. I conversed with a lot of people trying to make my mark so that when I get to where I want to be they’ll remember me from tour.

Of all the people you met on tour, who surprised you the most?

Kendrick Lamar. I saw how talented the dude was and how he was blowing up. Before we chilled I thought he was gunna be a dickhead. Same goes for Schoolboy Q because he has some cocky “I don’t give a fuck” raps, but they were the coolest dudes. I had several conversations with Kendrick about real shit, life situations and all that. He was so humble in the way he carried himself. He conversed with me like a homie rather then being like, “Who the fuck is this wannabe rapper?”

There was a big change in the sound and lyrical content from Feel This to DESTINY.altered. What caused this shift?

It came mostly from me getting more comfortable with myself as a rapper. Feel This was the first project I ever recorded in the studio, and it was all over the place. I had no designed lane that I was trying to go with it; it was just me displaying what talent I had. It was my introduction to myself musically. DESTINY.altered was who I am; I got better with my performance as an artist. It was a more focused project; the lyrical content and the production were more cohesive than Feel This.

The beats on DESTINY.altered come from a number of diverse producers (Bilal AMG & Oswin SM, David Heartbreak, Keyboard Kid, Ryan Hemsworth, Blue Sky Black Death, SPADEZ, Storm Watkins, Silky Johnson, nem270, SKYWLKR, Lyle Horowitz). What made you decide to include so many different producers whose beats were nothing like those featured on Feel This?

With Feel This I was using a lot of the beats that were “hot” at the time. For DESTINY.altered I was ready to leave that copycat shit behind and find my niche. I don’t want to be one of those artists that are trendy now because rappers like that will eventually fade out because their music lacks substance. I wanted to bring substance back to the art of rap. All the producers who I worked with saw my vision so the beats worked perfectly with my rapping. From front to back DESTINY.altered made sense. With Feel This I had to explain what I was doing in interludes and shit because I was taking people in so many different directions. I didn’t have to do any of that explaining on DESTINY.altered because it was a one direction deal. My whole objection was to make it sound like an album, and an album isn’t just a bunch of songs thrown together, rather it is a collection of songs that tell a story and compliment eachother. I got a lot of good responses from it, so I’m glad I chose to do what I did.

You get quite political on both of your mix tapes, more so with DESTINY.altered;

“Lost and stranded,/ funny how you planned it./ Now I’m kidnapping you and holding you for ransom/ Mr. President, now your in my residence./ Voted for a black man I feel ain’t represent.”

My issue isn’t just with the president; my issue is with politics period. Politics is some serious fuckitry. My biggest issue with Obama is that a lot of people of colour went out and voted for him because he is technically of colour himself without knowing his morals and politics. I get angry when people say, “We got our first black president”, when in fact he isn’t even black racially; his skin complexion is dark but he is as white as he is black. Honestly though I don’t fuck with any presidents because they are all just puppets; they don’t make a lot of the decisions that we think they make. Presidents are all fall guys for people to get pissed off at. They just have good talk game, as I said in NWO; “You had a good talk game./ Something better change before you’re outlined in chalk mayne”. I have a good talk game; I can talk a mother fucker out of his money and I can talk a bitch out of her panties, but at the end of the day it doesn’t mean shit. Most people don’t take the time to go out and research the statements that politicians make; they just allow themselves to be spoon-fed bullshit. It’s all a façade, smoke and mirrors that they put up and people fall for that shit. I’m not one of those people.

You talk about some really personal stuff on DESTINY.altered, including your mom’s drug addiction;

“I’m reminiscing about the past on the late night./ Looking for toys then I stumble across the crack pipe./ Asked my momma what it was, she looked surprised,/ told me a lie as she wiped the tears from her eyes.”

There was so much shit going on at the time that I can’t even say whether or not it was my moms crack pipe or not; it could have been hers, her friends, anybodys. I was exposed to a lot as a child, which forced me to grow up faster than I would have without all that shit going on around me. Everything is different now; my mom has been clean eighteen years. She doesn’t smoke, she doesn’t drink, she doesn’t drug, she doesn’t do anything. A lot of my motivation to make it with music is to assure that she lives comfortably. She sacrificed a lot for me, and crack is one of the hardest drugs to come back from; a lot of people out there are going to be strung out on crack for the rest of their lives. The fact that she is strong enough to stay clean inspires me. Not to mention she has eight kids and no husband to help out.

Are you close with your siblings?

I’m very close with my two sisters and five brothers. I’m living with my sister right now, so I spend a lot of time with her and my niece. I have an older brother that lives in New York, so whenever I’m up there for shows and what not we hang out. I got younger brothers who come up and visit all the time. I see my older sister sometimes when I go to jail because she is doing time. We got a close family; we still get together and eat on Sundays.

You mention your criminal past in your music;

“Drug dealers speak pig Latin so fluently./ Can’t find a job cuz those two felonies ruined me.”

I used to be heavy on my hustle. I was riding with my former homeboy and was going to deliver a package and I ended up getting arrested with the package and my gun. I got possession with intent to deliver, possession of an illegal firearm, and assault on a government official because I spat on the cop. I wasn’t even 20 and didn’t have any serious prior charges so the judge took it easy on me, gave me five years of probation. I’m trying to get past that point in my life, which is why I’m getting serious about this rap shit.

You claim that you have songs by Deniro and songs by Deniro Farrar. Can you explain what exactly you mean by this?

I grew up in a bad neighbourhood but was a good kid in some ways. I did well in school and got bumped up a grade, but I was always getting into shit. Deniro and Deniro Farrar is a good versus evil type thing. It’s something I still battle with. It’s almost a split personality. You can hear that in my music, so I have to differentiate the two.

You have a lot of tattoos but don’t seem like the kind of guy who got them for aesthetic purposes.

All my tattoos represent that Deniro versus Deniro Farrar. The tattoos on the left side of my body represent good with Holy tattoos, God and angels. The right side of my body represents evil, Satan and demons. I definitely didn’t throw a bunch of bullshit on me because I thought it looked cool, that ain’t me.

Who in today’s hip-hop climate do you think is doing the game proud?

It’s hard to say without going on for hours. I listen to all different kinds of hip-hop, and within each different type there are artists who are doing justice to the industry. BIG K.R.I.T., Ab-Soul, Shady Blaze, Danny Brown, and Kendrick Lamar to name a few.

You have collaborated with Bay Area rapper Shady Blaze a lot. How did you two link up?

We haven’t even met man it’s crazy. He is a cool dude. We linked up through Konstantin; he got me the feature for Shady Blaze, and when he emailed me back the feature I thought “Damn this shit is crazy. Dude is so far away and we share the same vision”. That one song brought about our collaborations, including the album we just finished up together.

What can we expect from that album?

It’s done, we are just waiting to release it. You can expect the best of west coast and east coast at the same fucking time. It’s a good comparison and contrast between our different styles, styles that mesh together really well. The whole project is very well put together; people are going to like it a lot.

What has been the hardest part of being a rapper for you?

Wondering when I’m gunna blow up and what song is gunna get me the exposure that lets me go viral. Once I get to the masses it’s a wrap, getting there is the challenge.

What is your favourite part being in the rap game?

Hearing my own music. I’m a fan of my own music; I play my shit as much as I play the next man’s. When I record some shit in the studio I’m on the engineer pressing him to email it me so as soon as I’m done I can bump it in the car, bump it with my boys, bump it at the house with my sister and her boyfriend.

What does the future hold for Deniro Farrar?

I’m working on another solo project, trying to keep shit moving. I don’t know when that big executive will give me that extra push to blow up so I’m trying to expand my catalogue.

Information on Deniro Farrar can be found below (click links to be redirected):

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LeMove’ interview

“Don Cline, God of Gnar, we ask you to allow us continue to do back flips and fuck bitches. In your name we pray”. This started off my interview with Eugene DJ and close personal friend Alex Ries AKA LeMove’. We talked about his musical career over homemade pizza and Charles Shaw. This was my first interview EVER, and definitely one of the most enjoyable to date. Alex is ambitious and well spoken, as you’ll see in the interview.

What sort of music did you grow up with before you discovered electronic music?

Before I was “musically conscious” if you will, I was listening to what my dad listened to which was Jimmy buffet, Blues traveler, Paul Kelly, etc. The kinds of bands that old people love. However I became attached to them as well as the pop culture music that was around at the time. I also always had a love for crazy European techno music that was not even close to the EDM sensation that we have today. I remember my first CD was Michael Jackson’s Thriller which I got in my Christmas stocking when I was a child. I probably know all the lyrics to every song because I listened to it so much. My love for music goes way back.

Do you experiment with other genres of music?

Yeah, I started production messing around with techno and then got really into it in high school making hip hop beats and then transferred over to EDM later on. I have been trying to get back into making hip hop beats because they are super fun to make and I can learn more about production through a different platform.

How did you first get turned on to electronic music?

My friend Jason brought a CD on a party bus in high school that his older brother made for him and it had some classics from Basshunter and N trance, stuff like that. The party bus was a blast and everyone seemed to like the music, Jason and I especially. We started searching and building our EDM library and trading back and forth from then on and the rest is history.

Who was the artist who really inspired you to begin producing?

I wasn’t really inspired by an artist in the industry as much as my buddy Tom and I were stoked on producing and kind of had a friendly competition going in high school that pushed each other to higher limits.

Has your family been supportive of your musical pursuits?

Yes very much so. My parents started me with piano lessons as a young child and encouraged me to practice and they have always wanted me to keep with music. I think from the standpoint of a parent, they wanted me to have those intelligence and learning benefits from understanding music but I would say I never saw it that way. I always liked being able to sooth my brain with some song that I had committed to memory. I hate reading music, but I could memorize a piano piece like it was nobody’s business. My parents are aware that I DJ and still make and play music but I don’t really share much with them in that department of my life because I kind of see it as my escape from everything and everyone else. Not that I really need an escape at all but when I’m making or playing a show (unless I have to please a difficult crowd of sorority girls who only want to hear Cat Daddy), I make the rules, I run the show, I can do whatever the fuck I want to do. For production, if other people don’t like the music that I produce, they don’t have to listen to it. It’s not that bad because I personally love every song I make as if it were my child.  Granted I feel god-like when people tell me they love my music.

What has been the hardest of being a DJ?

The hardest part of DJing for me comes in two parts, one is the fact that I DJ in Eugene, Oregon where I go to the University, which means the crowds that I play for are sometimes a bunch of young people, heavily influenced by pop music culture. Some have closed their minds off to other music I.e. EDM which is what is my love and passion. I want to punch myself in the face for doing this but sometimes I will have to play the same song like three times in a night because three different girls want a song and they will pout and moan and talk shit until they get it.  After the show they base their opinion off those little interactions. I can’t have that kind of publicity when I’m trying to book shows on the regular so I please the crowd so I get paid. However when I’m playing at my fraternity or my house, I call the shots and play what I think they will like but I put my own spin on it all, including my own tracks. The other difficult part is the fact that I have committed my life (On my own terms and to myself) that I will become one of the biggest DJs/EDM producers that this world has ever seen. That fact alone does not scare me at all because I am in the process of thinking it into reality. However, when dealing with that scene it is difficult for me to do it sometimes stress free because I am always saying to myself, “How can I be more like Kaskade or Dada Life?” Or, “How can I move people and have bigger sounds than…(insert huge legendary DJ here) Doesn’t matter who it is, because I am always comparing myself. I have learned now to learn from the big names and not worry about sounding like them. It is frustrating now but it is a good motivator and will pay off when I am working with those who I am comparing to now.

What is your favorite part of being a DJ?

My favorite part of DJing is the moment in the show where I see people doing less than they should be, i.e. texting on the wall or dancing with 95% intensity, and I have the perfect mix in my head that I know everyone will go nuts for. (Example at 10:00 in “LeMove’s First Final Mix” found on my soundcloud page). I mix in my free time at home and get general ideas for mixes to play at shows and practice them until I could do them on the fly. Once that’s done I just drop them when I want people to go wild, play the mix and improvise on the spot according to the crowd. It always works. I feel like I am the puppeteer in those situations because I can literally decide if I want the party to pop off and hype the energy. However people can’t sustain that level of intensity and dancing/raging forever so I have to choose wisely when to drop it and how long I keep it going for.

How would your life be different without your music?

I honestly do not see myself doing anything else besides music in my life so I imagine my life would suck because I guess I would do nothing.  If I were without my music I would have to pick up a new hobby to occupy all of my time. I would probably finish up school and go on to do something not as fun as what I am doing with music.

 What has been the single greatest moment in your DJ career?

 So far I would say getting contacted fairly often by people who want me to DJ their events.  It’s more of a recent collection of moments. I guess the good word has been spread about my music because the business has been picking up quite a bit lately. I like making money when I DJ but I almost like doing it for free more because I feel less pressure to fuck up. I can really break free and get creative with it compared to when I’m paid as its much more of a service I am providing and I have to play what I need to get paid and asked back. I get enough of both and those mixed with the ones I do under my own terms, I have a damn blast.

What does the future hold for LeMove?

One cannot say for sure but I can say that you can expect LeMove to never stop making music and you may also catch me at the top of the charts at some point, for I will not stop improving and learning and producing until that goal is reached and surpassed. Even after I have reached that point, it is not over.  There will always be more. I will have many new songs coming out more frequently and an EP is on its way as well as some collaborations with my buddy. I am also working currently on 4 songs, one of them being my first Original track with vocals from a local singer. This I am very, very excited for.

Information on LeMove’ can be found below (click links to be redirected):

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Bobby Bonaparte (LiFT Clothing) interview

Another Music Miner first; an interview with a fashion designer. CEO Bobby Bonaparte designs, promotes, markets, and manages his clothing label LiFT. LiFT is about a lot more than clothing, as you’ll learn from Bobby in this interview. I had a newfound appreciation for the company after talking to Bobby; it is apparent that he is passionate about his creative expression, but also about being a force of positive change. Below is the company’s mission statement, which will help put this article into context.

Lift is locally rooted and globally conscious.

We challenge conventions and strive for constructive change.

Lightness and fun inspire us to the fullest.

We carry the physical balance that originates in our activities into a healthy lifestyle.  To live holistically and sustainably is a journey, and balance is key.

We seek to foster acts of positive creativity in the community and spread good vibes.

We incorporate the positive and eco-friendly practices of diverse cultures into our business and lives.

We are transparent in how we create our products, how we conduct business, and in how we live.

We are a part of a culture that supports a holistic way of living, is in tune with the earth and encourages pure individualism.

Stay Lifted!

When did you decide to start up LiFT? What sort of vision did you have in mind for the company?

I started drawing “LiFT” with an upwards arrow for the “i” on my skateboards when I was in the 8th grade. I hoped writing “LiFT” would give me more height or ‘lift’ when I was ollieing. Always seeking to progress, I found an ancient silkscreen that belonged to my aunt in my basement and taught myself how to silkscreen LiFT concepts.

I loved the creative freedom silk-screening gave me. I could put anything I wanted onto a shirt. I soon found that shirts and clothing in general were an incredible means of self-expression. I began getting my message out and it seemed to resonate with people.

I made shirts on and off during high school and college (Occidental ’10) for fun. After interning at Weiden + Kennedy in Tokyo, I was inspired to start a skate team in Los Angeles. After graduation I headed home to Portland and took a job in marketing causing my creativity to lag.

I met up with old friend and LiFT supporter since high school Anthony Villella in the spring of 2011. While we hung out he asked me about what had happened to LiFT. He inspired and helped me revitalize LiFT and come out with a line of silk-screened tank tops for summer. We were on the same page about being involved with the community in a positive way, our commitment to the environment, philanthropy, pushing the envelope of design/manufacturing in the Northwest and maintaining an overall positive perspective.

That summer the line of tank tops sold out and it became clear that I could make a living doing what I love. I left my salaried job to follow my passion for LiFT.

What was the hardest part of putting the company together?

Putting together the company wasn’t the challenge; it’s getting it out there and keeping it going.

Where does the inspiration for LiFT’s apparel come from?

 Inspiration comes from all sources. From creative culture — architecture, graphic design, music & film.  From art — Salvador Dali, Roy Lichtenstein & John Baldessari.  From place — Portland, Tokyo, France, NYC & California. From the apparel industry — Warriors of Radness, COMME des GARÇONS & A.P.C. From people — friends, family, randoms & lovers.

Eye of Presence Crewneck (purchase here)

It seems as though LiFT is about a lot more than just the clothing itself. Has this always been the case?

Yes. Apparel is only one aspect of life, therefore, it is only one aspect of the company. We strive to help those in need via donations of time, money, supplies and whatever else we can.

I’ve also made sure to give back to community by donating time, money & supplies to some amazing non-profits like Ecotrust, Salmon Nation, p:ear, The Listening Archive & Focus the Nation. LiFT is a member of 1% for the Planet, an organization founded by Yvon Chouinard, and we donate at least 1% of our total sales to an non-profit of our choice (Ecotrust).

Nude Dye Tee (purchase here)

Did you think that LiFT would make it to where it is today when you founded it?

Yes. It’s always been my goal to make LiFT happen. I believe that if you passionate about a cause and put genuine effort in, you can achieve your goals.

STAY LiFTED Surf Beanie (purchase here)

What had been the single greatest success of LiFT in your eyes?

I try not get caught up in “success.”  I try love each moment equally. But, getting into (and then selling out of stores) all along the west coast boosted/bolstered the idea that buyers/shop owners were hyped on LiFT and wanted to carry it in their stores. I also just patterned out my first pair of pants. The evolution from screen-printing to designing and creating garments is exciting.

Information on LiFT can be found below (click links to be redirected):

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