What's going on man. Pleasure to have this opportunity.
Your new album 'Chain Letters' is about to be released on October 4 (check answer for correct release date, red.), it has been pushed back a few times and it should've been originally released on Grit records?
The new album is scheduled to drop on October 25 on Soulspazm Records. It was originally supposed to be released on Grit Records but I got tired of waiting around for them on paperwork, release dates, and all that. I financed my album myself anyway, so I just chose to take it elsewhere and keep it moving.
What happened exactly? You wanted it yourself to be postponed or was it more a music/biz - thing?
It was postponed for a lot of reasons but the main problem was getting the money and paperwork straight. Then, I was waiting on certain producers to send the beats and final mixes but they kept bullshitting so me and Illmind finished up the album.
How do you feel about your album finally being released?
I'm pleased that the 'Chain Letters' is finally coming out but it's long overdue.
Was it easy to get a deal with Soulspazm?
It was easy for me because we had a working relationship before I got my deal. I had performed at their event Beat Society a few times before, so I had already met Sal and Krystof. They had already been fans of some of my previous work and knew what I went through with other labels. My boy T (Slopfunkdust) gave me the message that they were interested and we started building after that. I don't think it would be easy if I hadn't built my own buzz beforehand though, but that's with any label.
What do you think is the strength of the label and its roster?
I think their strong point is the production on Soulspazm releases. From throwing the Beat Society producer showcases I think they are more critical on the quality of the production versus the big names of the producers. They always have dope artwork as well, so that gives them a more professional look.
As far as the roster, I've met Hezekiah a few times and talked to him on different occasions. He's a cool cat and we've worked with a lot of the same producers. I don't know Grand Agent at all. I've known Pumpkinhead for years and I got the nothing but respect for him. I met him during a trip to NY when he was working with Makin' Records (circa '97 or '98). He heard me rhyme once and invited me to perform onstage with him, What What! (now known as Jean Grae), Bad Seed, and DCQ from Medina Green at the Lyricist Lounge. He looked out for me and didn't even know me like that, so that's love right there.
How does 'Chain Letters' differ from your earlier work?
It's a completely different vibe from any other project I've done. All of the other albums and releases were very personal and spoke on things that I had and went through in life and the music business. 'Chain Letters' is a completely different direction because it's more about making dope, conceptual songs and creative music instead of just venting my frustrations. The beats on ‘The Deadline’ were more melodic and laid-back but 'Chain Letters’ is a lot more energetic. Some fans keep asking for another ‘Deadline’ or something similar to my past releases but I'm not trying to repeat what I've done before. I think this album will help my name grow more and reach people I couldn't before.
We've read a few times you consider 'Chain Letters' as your best album to date. Give us 3 reasons why we should be expecting it to be better than the very dope '7 Years Of Bad Luck' and ‘The Deadline'?
I've gotten better as a songwriter and an emcee so the lyrics and delivery are definitely a step up. For this album, I had a variety of beats to choose from and all the producers sent me quality material. Since I've been working on the album for so long I had a chance to sit with songs, re-record them, trash them, and hone the project a little more. This time around I had a chance to work with DJs like Faust & Shortee (the first married turntablism tandem, red.) and White Shadow from Norway, who laced cuts for certain songs because I always felt like some songs aren't done until the DJ becomes a part of it. I'm proud of the end result so personally I think it's my best work to date. Of course there will be people who praised my other releases so much that it will never top their standards.
You did a lot of remarkable featurings lately; in the underground this only made the buzz for 'Chain Letters' bigger. Is that a nice side-effect of your featurings or rather the goal of 'em?
There was a point where I just wanted to be heard and get my name out there. My mentality was; if you rap on this dude's record and he has different fans than you, then you'll be introduced to a new crowd who wouldn't usually check for your music. I just tried to get on anybody's track and get some shine. I've done guest spots that benefited me in the long run and I've worked with some wack ass artists too in the process. It's a good and bad thing I guess. 80% of those dudes didn't even have the decency to send me a copy of the song/album, even when I did it for free so I'm not looking to spit on anybody's records on the strength.
'The Williams' (of the OkayPlayer’s ‘True Notes’ compilation) got pretty big. You actually were never intending to submit the track for the ‘contest’ for the compilation, right? Explain us how you get from 'not-even-planning-to-send-it-in' to 'dopest-track-of-the-record'?
The track was originally recorded for 'Chain Letters' when it was supposed to come out in 2004, so it was written in 2003 shortly after ‘7 Years of Bad Luck’. I remember playing the beat for Freshchest Records and they said; ‘the beat is okay but he needs to work on his drums’. That song ended up being one of my biggest songs to date. As far as the whole Okayplayer thing, I had heard about the contest but I didn't think much of it because I've never won anything in my life. Nicolay and some other mutual friends spoke with me and said that they thought it was a strong song and it had a good chance of being selected. I debated it at first but then I finally agreed to, because Grit was still sitting on my album anyway. It was an honor to be mentioned alongside bigger names like The Roots, Skillz, and other cats. I opened up my eyes to the fact that people won't bother checking for your music until someone else co-signs it or you're presented on a national level. It's a shame but it's the truth.
The track is produced by Nicolay. How did you two connect?
I heard Little Brother's 'Light It Up' joint that Nicolay did and I thought he was from North Carolina because he had worked with a few people from my state. One of my boys gave me his info and a link to his site. We started building and he liked my music but felt I needed better production that complimented me. He sent me about 10 or 11 beats. I started picking from those and writing to them.
He produced on ‘Chain Letters’ too… any future collaborations?
He produced 3 joints on my album and I'm sure we will do more work in the future too.
Your album (well, what people believed to be the album) leaked on the net. On your site you point that stuff out in a nice piece which could've been titled ‘Don't believe the hype’. Ironically enough, the hype got even bigger with its Internet release... So what's your point of view on all this Internet/download stuff eventually?
The whole album leaking issue kind of pissed me off mainly because I know who leaked it and they were part of my team at one point. It killed my trust in some people around me because those songs were unfinished and some didn't even have hooks. I wasn't mad at people who downloaded because it was already out there so it was a given for them to download it. Then people started making up song titles and creating phony track listings that began circulating. The illest shit had to be when people started contacting me personally for the track listing and production credits. It's like I if lost my debit card, would you contact me and ask me for my fucking pin number if you found it. I don't mind the downloading but don't hit me up asking me for a song title because you want to have the correct info in your Ipod.
'Hip-hop ? That on-line shit it ain't the same', you rap in 'Fountain of Youth', what did you mean by that?
By that line I meant that hip-hop is lacking a lot of things it had in the previous years. It used to be an experience to run out to the record store, buy an album, and listen while you read the credits. The first time I heard a Rakim song, it was blasting out the speakers at a club in my hometown but now people listen to everything first on some shitty computer speakers. You had to actually leave the house and go to shows to experience what the music was about. If you ask me where I was, when I first heard ‘Paid in Full’ I can remember where I was and what was going on at the time. If I asked a hip-hop head ‘where were you the first time you heard the ‘Black Album’?’, he'd probably say; ‘Sitting in front of my computer at home’. To me it's just not the same.
Artistic freedom is one of the most important things to genuine artists. Is that the reason why you finance most of your stuff on your own? Do you want to be independent as one can get?
I've never been the type to sit around and wait on people to help me or sign over my rights as an artist so I always opt to finance my own projects. When you're dealing with labels, they always want you to work with their producers, artists, or whatever but I'm not big on that. If you aren't gonna give me enough money to feed my family then you're not gonna be standing over my shoulder trying to tell me what beat to rap to or what to talk about. I let one record label A&R do one of my projects and I hated the end result so I'd rather do it myself. If you have the right resources then it's not hard to put an album together on your own.
You're still an official member of Wax Reform?
I'm officially not a part of Wax Reform anymore. I stopped working and speaking with certain people in the crew after awhile so I felt there was no need to be a part of it anymore. My vision was different and I felt like people weren't taking it as serious as others. I still talk to some of the cats from the crew so it's all good with me.
Is it easy to work with producers from different continents? Nicolay being from the Netherlands, M-Phazes from Australia,… What are the advantages?
For me, it is, because I'm not a people person at all. I like to let the producer do his work within his element and allow me to do the same when I record. It's very rare that a producer is in the studio with me unless he's recording the song at his studio. I think international producers are hungrier than American ones sometimes but it varies on the person though.
The disadvantage is when people want to share your music with their friends for criticism and just to let them hear it.
How do you share the music, through Internet?
Most of the time we exchange music via the Internet because it's inexpensive. Anytime you deal with file transfers then you run the risk someone else getting a hold of your music.
How do you look back on the release of your debut '7 years of bad luck'?
I haven't listened to that album in about a year. To be honest I can't even listen to the shit. There were so many things wrong with that album but I had nothing else to work with at the time so I had to go with what I had. I see that album as a demo that ended up getting released because that's pretty much what it was.
We’ve heard you didn't have the chance to pick your own beats at Freshchest? Was that the reason to look for a new label or did you and Freshchest just didn't go together?
Well I did pick some of the beats for the album but they disliked a lot of the production so they wanted to substitute the original version with their production instead. I had to teach myself to make beats because I couldn't get any help on production. I admit that a lot of the beats were sub-par, but it rubbed me the wrong way that they were so much on their own dicks. If you didn't like the beats then why not reach out to other producers? Why take away a weak beat and replace with one of your beats that was just as weak as the first one… that's not an improvement.
Creative differences and personality clashes just killed that whole project. Those dudes just disappeared after awhile and you couldn't get in touch with anyone from the label. I finally spoke to them about 8-9 months ago and the dude was trying to convince me that he never jerked me out of money. But what goes around comes around… everyone has pretty much left them and some of the artists were disappointed with how they were treated.
You produce from time to time, are you gonna focus more on that in the future?
Nah not really. I’ve learned to produce because I was tired of getting bullshitted from other producers. Just in case I am ever that much in need of a beat then I'll know what to do. Production for me is like the fire extinguisher in the glass case… used only in cases of emergency. It's just a hobby on the side.
When you produce what equipment do you use?
I use the fully expanded Ensoniq ASR-X (the black version) and Roland midi keyboard along with a few other makeshift pieces of equipment.
I got the ASR-X because it was cheap as hell and I wanted to learn the basics of sampling and production before I invested money in something expensive. The best producers and DJ’s started out with the cheap equipment first to hone their skills so it was only right. I thought of upgrading to another sampler but I don't devote enough time into it to spend more money on it.
Unlike a lot of today's emcees, you're pretty much an emcee who spits with a social consciousness... Is that a way of 'giving back to the community'?
For me personally, I just got tired of rapping about rappers and doing the typical hip-hop record. Plus I am a father of two and one of my daughters is a teenager so I'm not gonna carry myself in a way that my children can't respect. I speak on issues I go through and people around me go through so people can learn from it or relate to it. I wouldn't consider myself conscious but I have substance in a lot of my songs though.
Since 'nomen est omen' (the name is a sign)... How does your name relates to your own visions/beliefs/philosophies/... ?
The name Supastition came from the fact that people didn't believe in me when I first started pursuing music. I had to prove myself to people and still didn't get love from in my state and around my city at first. It was a name I chose, because some people believe in superstition and some don't.
You listen to hip-hop a lot. What are some of the groups that remained too underrated throughout the history of hip-hop? Can you name some groups that you liked a lot, but other people didn't really listen to?
I could name a lot of rappers I liked then, because I didn't care about how many other people listened to an artist. I was a big fan of Steady B, CL Smooth and not just because of Pete on production, Yaggfu Front, Trendz of Culture, 3 Times Dope, Apache, and a lot of others. Back then I tried to buy every album that came out. In my neighbourhood, I was the kid who had all the hip-hop cassettes.
What's your favourite era; 80s or 90s?
I don't like to compare because I have memories from both eras. The 80's to me were more of the years of hip-hop just having fun and enjoying the new culture but the 90's focused more on lyrics and making sure that hip-hop didn't die out. I love them both.
What are some of your best memories of old-school hip-hop as for performances you attended?
I lived in a small town so we didn't have that many popular artists performing in the area or I was too young to get into the clubs. My favorite moments had to be seeing MC Lyte, Doctor Ice (of UTFO), Grand Puba, Redman, and a couple of other people. My best moments were just being at parties and seeing how people responded to songs that just came out. I was a big fan of DJ-ing, so it was always a plus to see a dope DJ who could actually scratch and rock a party.
What music do you like to listen to (non-hip-hop)?
I listen to a lot of Jackie Mittoo, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, and stuff like that. I grew up on MTV, so I'll still listen to some rock or alternative music if I feel like it. If you look in my collection, I got everything from obscure soul singers to dance music. It doesn't matter to me honestly. I've been around different cultures and ethnic groups so my taste is kind of diverse. I don't listen to country music at all though.
Tell us something about your NC background and its hip-hop scene?
I came up in NC as a battle rapper and freestyler. People knew me as the guy to call on when somebody was running their mouth about being nice. (laughs). I didn't even look like the type of person that had skills so I always caught people slippin'. The older and more serious I got I started to stray away from battles and freestyling because you can end up getting pigeon-holed like that. Thankfully, I shook that image before I started getting attention on a national level.
The scene in NC is growing right now, but we still have a long way to go. We got some ill artists and producers that haven't even been heard yet by the masses. As with any scene you got the egos, beefs, and bullshit. I've always gotten more love outside of NC than I have within my home state so I never focused on being popular locally. Being the famous local rapper was pointless to me when you couldn't pay your bills or get a show outside of your region. Carolina is on the come up though.
What do you do: a black cat crosses the stage stairs just before you need to get on: a) you get on and rip the mic, b) you try to find the cat and pet the pussy, c) you don't wanna get on anymore…
Fuck that cat… I'm gonna perform regardless and do my thing (laughs). I'm superstitious about some things but not everything. I've got my own superstitions and that people around me don't like. If someone reads one of my verses or songs before I record it then I'll trash the whole thing and start over.
The hottest naked chick you've ever seen is in the bedroom next to you, sadly enough, the only way to get there is by walking under ladders which you cannot be removed cuz of their heaviness, ... you'd walk under them to get some or wassup?
Shit, my wife sleeps next to me every night so she wouldn't be in my room in the first place without my woman beating her ass (laughs). I wouldn't walk under the ladder because the woman or the ladder wasn't there before I went to sleep. It could be a setup… (laughs)
Please leave a comment:
I refuse to call North Carolina ‘Kakalak’ and I've always had an issue with it. ‘Kakalak’ sounds like some country, backwoods shit and that doesn't apply to me. Nobody in NC came up with that name in the first place.
My Carolina fam and my real friends outside of music. Seven, Equinox, and myself are the Lost Colony and I'll rep those dudes 'til the end. You'll hear more from them real soon.
Those dudes know how to hustle and grind. One of the few NC collectives that realized you can be the shit outside of NC and then the state will catch up with you later. Real down to earth brothers for real.
One of my favorites of all time. He brought the hardcore image but also showed that you can have a sense of humor at the same time. I don't care what anyone says… Redman is a monster on the mic.
He's a veteran and he has a dedication like no other. I remember meeting him when he had the #1 song on college radio back in the day and he stayed at it through the labels and politics. Watch this brother perform onstage if you need a lesson in breath control.
Real humble dude. I had a chance to chill with him and the other members of Lightheaded when they came to NC.
A legend! He will always be known and remembered as one of the best songwriters and performers in music.
When you're out of milk, eat your cereal with water. I eat Corn Flakes sometimes but I gotta have that lactose free milk or it's over. (laughs)
Stock Car Races
The reason why traffic is backed up in Charlotte all the damn time. I can't watch a car drive around in circles that many times and still be excited. It's too many shirtless rednecks and confederate flags around for me to ever enjoy it.
They were better off in Charlotte than New Orleans. They had the city’s support until the owner made some terrible business decisions. I think the ‘Hornets’ was a better name than the ‘Bobcats’ though.
Thanks for the interview Supa!