1.0 Were you happy with how your debut The Today EP turned out?
I was very happy with how The Today EP turned out. Everything from the music to the cover art/design. The total package was just about everything I imagined and wanted it to be, and that is such a great feeling as an artist. I was very proud.
2.0 Which track on it do people gravitate to most?
Hard to say. Every track is very different. People who are fans of popular rap music tend to gravitate towards “Somethin’ of a Playa” because it’s more of a “club” rap song. A lot of my friends like “Party Tonight” because its a little bluesy and its about getting drunk and having a good time. Then there are people who love “Today” for the same reasons I do.
3.0 Do you have a favorite song on the disc?
I actually love the intro track to the EP. I think it’s a beautiful introduction. However, my favorite “song” song is probably Today. I love the message. It’s about being happy just to be alive, appreciating the fact that life in itself is beautiful, and that in the end, things work out for the best. The delivery is honest and straightforward. For a while, I played it every morning when I woke up.
4.0 What is your definition of hip-hop?
This is a great question, we touched briefly on it the other night. These days, the word hip-hop takes on a lot of different meanings. In the classic sense, I think it’s considered a way of life, it’s own culture. Hip-hop culture. I more or less agree with that idea, but to me, hip-hop is the embodiment of the art in a culture. Whether its the style, the fashion, the way someone walks, the way they talk, the beats they make, the way they rap, sing, or dance….hip-hop is the attitude, the state of mind, but most importantly, it’s the expression of one’s individuality through these mediums.
5.0 Do you see piano as a unique vehicle in the genre?
Another good question. I wouldn’t say that the piano itself is a unique vehicle. Most hip-hop producers use keyboards to make their beats, myself included. I do feel like my background as a pianist gives me a bit of a leg up, but I tend to downplay that. The truth is, you could have all the classical training in the world, but at the end of the day, its all about whether or not what you’re doing sounds good.
6.0 How does the writing process work for you? does it vary from song to song?
It definitely varies. When I write hip-hop it almost always starts with the beat. The beat dictates the mood of the song, which leads you to the theme, which then brings on the lyrics themselves.
7.0 Are there triggers in your life that compel you gto sit down and write?
I’ve always believed in writing from personal experience. I used to use writing as a way to cope with and express my pain, and I wrote a lot of sad songs when I was younger. Nowadays its more of a routine and the moods are more varied.
8.0 Who were your musical heroes growing up and how do they impact your music today?
As a kid I mostly listened to the radio. When “Gangsta’s Paradise” came out, it was my absolute favorite song. That was also the first tape I ever owned. The first hip-hop show I ever saw was Dilated Peoples, Jurassic-5, and Mos Def. I was probably 12 years old and it changed my life. In high school I was heavily influenced by the underground hip-hop scene on the west coast. There were a whole slew of rappers who refused to conform to what mainstream hip-hop was like at the time. John Legend released his first solo album around the time I started writing R&B songs on the piano, and he was a big influence on me. In college I started to dig into artists like Stevie Wonder, who I absolutely adore, funk groups like Earth Wind and Fire, and my palette for music expanded greatly in general.
9.0 Are you planning on a follow-up soon?
I recently recorded a handful of new songs, which I’ll most likely turn into a new EP and release it on the internet for free, so definitely be on the lookout for that!
10.0 If you can make it in New York, can you really make it anywhere?
It’s a tough city, but it’s full of opportunity. Fuck man, I sure hope so!
Follow Matt Levy on Twitter @mattnasty12