Everything Boisterous recently had the pleasure of catching up with South Coast Music Group’s latest signee TiaCorine from the grounds of the salon. During the live interview, we discuss her intro to creating music, how she balanced being a mom while curating attention to herself as a rapper ,the popularity around “Lotto”, working with Sonny Digital for her track “Mine” , her latest project 34Corine, being co-signed by SZA, looking up to Tyler, The Creator , and more. It is clear that TiaCorine not only has something to say, but is more importantly here to stay. Check out our latest interview with this artist on the rise out of North Carolina.
Archive for the ‘E.B Interviews’ Category
In the midst of quarantine, i had a chance to recently interview viral sensation Alexis Feacher aka Yungbbq on IG Live. In cased you couldn’t tune in, we discuss everything from wanting to battle Chris Brown and Ciara ,embracing her confidence, the process behind making her viral videos , how she came up with her name , what pushes her to consistently make positive content , #whatdafreak is keeping her sane during the pandemic we’re in , and so much more . We laughed , we had heart to hearts , and yes , she did give us a swerve tutorial! Peep the full interview below and let us know what you think !
Often times when we are investing in small or local brands, we aren’t thinking of all the things it actually takes to run a successful brand and how much loyalty and engagement they have with the people who are buying their products. Small brands are foundations for impact rather you want to accept that or not and often have a bit of leverage over bigger brands. Why ?Because smaller brands know their audience and their community a bit better then other platforms who just want your coin. This is the reason why more than often you see big brands collaborating with small brands and micro-influencers to create product rather that is sneakers or an apparel collection . The phrase, “If you know, you know” is probably more powerful than ever.Rather it’s the marketing , the graphics, or the overall execution , North Carolina native Greg Cates of GAC GETS IT. If you’re from the south, this is the brand you can look to see expand more and more into the world and if you are into music, his work doesn’t just stop at creating apparel. He’s also responsible for the tour merch and graphics for some of the hottest artists out at this very moment. Luckily for me, I got to deep dive with Greg to see how his brand GAC has came to life and what doors it has led him to thus far. Peep our latest conversation below and let us know what you think !
EB: Greg Cates! How are you ?
GC: I’m good ! No complaints , I’ve been driving all day today but other than that , no complaints. How about you ?
EB: I’m cool, just been working from home so I can’t complain on my side ! I think we’re ready to hop into it today so boom let’s get into it. Where are you from originally ?
GC: I’m originally from Burlington,North Carolina !
EB: Wow, that’s a first ! I have never met anyone from Burlington but wow. What part of Burlington ? Is there a certain area?
GC: There’s a lot of small towns in Burlington but I stayed in Graham and I went to Graham High School so I lived like 10 minutes away from the BURLINGTON/ Burlington area so yeah!
EB: Okay, gotchu gotchu ! So with you coming up in Burlington , where did this love for clothing and streetwear come from?
GC: Honestly I’ve never been a fashion guy soI think it was more so a love for creativity and vintage and because of those two things, I just ended up creating t-shirts and garments and stuff. Originally , I started selling t-shirts as a way of making money after my freshman year of college being broke . I started making these t-shirts that had the city’s nickname on it and we called it Bucktown. I think Burlington played a part because I started selling those t-shirts and they were selling like crazy. I was like oh….maybe I could actually start a brand but I had no direction at that time and I think this was either 2012 or 2013.
EB: So i know you mentioned being a broke college student which most of us can relate to as a drive for starting your hustle. As you were starting your brand.. What life experiences were taking place for you in addition to that which made you jumpstart your brand?
GC: I just started paying attention to local brands like F4mily Matters in Charlotte and other household names that were already doing what I wanted to do. I started paying attention to their marketing tactics and how they designed. I dropped out of college and didn’t get a fashion or marketing degree so I just had to do a lot of research on my own.
EB:Were you always passionate about your community and translating that passion into the t-shirts you were creating?
GC: I’ve always been a people person and a community person and that had already been apart of my lifestyle. So when I started designing t-shirts, it was just incorporating my lifestyle into the t-shirts and the storytelling. The t-shirts and what I put on them all stem from my lifestyle and it’s tied to my community because I always want to engage with people.
EB: So do you think that want has played a big role in who you collaborate with and the stories you tell ?
GC: It definitely plays a role in my audience. I think even a negative person who sees a flyer that I posted may not align with me but I’m always hoping I can be a light to them or either they’ll leave and feel like it’s not the brand for them. I feel like it’s easy to curate and carry the brand the way I do because I have an audience that can appreciate it.
EB: Speaking of the audience you cater to…I’ve noticed that there’s definitely an aesthetic you’ve built around the brand using VHS tapes, throwback moments that took place in NC ,an Aggies throwback game and you use a lot of nostalgic programming from Nickelodeon, the staticy weatherman reports and all that.Have you always had a team that could help contribute to this or has it always been you up until this point ?
GC: So I’m extremely into vintage and I’ve always been. Growing up, I was a sports guy playing basketball and I ran track so I was always the type of person to throw on sweats and and my track or basketball hoodie and not really capture fashion. I think at one point I just wanted to turn my swagg up and didn’t have the means to do it so in the 11th grade , I started wearing vintage from the thrift store. When I went to a thrift store, it made me think of my childhood. I think that’s one of the reasons I curate vintage. I have the eye for it and it reminds me of my childhood and I want my audience to catch that same feeling. So when I post something that’s inspired by nickelodeon or an Mp3 player, it brings people back to feel an emotion rather it’s happy or sad. I always want to get emotion out of people through that connection so that’s why I feel like I am a storyteller.
EB:Now, I know you made a video deep diving into the streetwear is dead quote from Virgil and from what I took away from your video, you highly disagreed . So from the point of view of a small streetwear brand with influence , what does streetwear mean to you and why is it so important to the culture ?
GC: For me, streetwear means that it’s meant to be worn on the streets rather that is a t-shirt , an Adidas track pant or something that has a hole on it, it’s streetwear. So the narrative that streetwear is dying … I just couldn’t rock with that because a streetwear piece like a t-shirt is a canvas . I think putting on something simple and not needing to iron it or get it dry cleaned is what I also think of as streetwear to me. I think streetwear is important because people should always want to be comfortable. I think Virgirl as a fashion guy wears a lot of streetwear so I thought his statement was contradicting.
EB: I feel like a lot of people forget and overlook things once they reach a certain status in life. The Hundreds started off as a tshirt brand and they didn’t intend to take over the streetwear scene through their blog platform and then they grinded their way into shops all over and even mainstream skate shops. Streetwear is what we grow up on , it’s about accessibility and I think when you link streetwear and how black people operate in it… I think of what the founder of 424 clothing once told me at Agenda . He was a black man and he told me that black people have to usually start off in streetwear before they land into the high fashion space and so I look at streetwear as a foundation much like yourself and I completely agree with your point of view.
GC: Completely feel you and you definitely made some points.
EB: Now for people who may have never been on your page before … let’s say they get to your page and they see not only Megan Thee Stallion rocking your hoody but Ari Lennox as well. What are the stories behind getting them the product ? Oftentimes, we highlight the photo or the product cop but we don’t highlight the process in how the product actually reached the hands of certain people.
GC: That’s a really good question so thanks for asking. Sidenote, I always make it a point to be as transparent as I can with my audience and share my processes of printing and all things in between with people because I want them to know that they can do it too and that I started from the bottom. Them getting my stuff has to do with my other job of being a freelancer where I brand other artists and start up companies with a team behind me. I have two illustrators, a production manager, a videographer, and a photographer . One of the photographers went on tour with Ari so when I made her my full time photographer, she had a show the same day as my pop up in Greensboro during GHOE. I guess before Amanda the photographer started taking pictures of her, she asked Ari if she wanted anything from the pop up and showed her what I had. She asked for a hoodie ,I airbrushed it , and she got it. Now Megan Thee Stallion was a crazier story. My boy Joe from LA got hired as a videographer for a certain amount of time. Within 6 months, they had a show in Durham and I was making merch for Big KRIT at the time and his show was in Raleigh. I ended up dipping from the show because I just didn’t feel like I was being treated well. I woke up the next morning to a text message from Joe who asked if I was in NC. He wanted to link and I was already in Raleigh so I drove to Durham and I know how I am around celebrities so I wasn’t going to press him to see Megan or anything like that. Ironically I had hoodies in my car that I had planned to give to Krit and them so I took them when I went to see Megan and her team and they said it was hot. Ended up kicking it and Joe needed some graphics and I told him I could do it. He pulled some strings and Roc Nation and her management were pleased so yeah, that’s how she got the hoodie. Pretty crazy
EB: Wow !Thats fire !
GC: Then I don’t know if you know the song “Uno” by Ambjaayy ?:
EB : Oh yeah, I love that song !
GC: Word ! So when that song dropped, I was interning for a creative agency who was in charge of his merch and stuff at the time. I was kind of like a middle man , I followed him on instagram and reached out personally. He followed me and he’s dropping his first album under Columbia on April 4th so me and my team are putting together all his merch right now. I met him through the same agency that put me in contact with Krit so yeah !
EB: That’s really crazy! Do you have a favorite collaboration amongst your brand thus far ?
GC: At this point, it’s hard. I’m not going to collaborate if I know I am not going to love it at the end. This used to be easy for me to answer but my best executed one was a collaboration with a church youth group. They basically were doing a back to school thing, I talked to the students and did a pop up shop called GAC To School. It was 107 students there and I collaborated with the youth group that was catered to them and my audience as well. That sold really well and then my favorite is the Bojangles one. No one was really thinking about doing stuff with Bojangles. I think people expect household names to do that but I had shooted my shot to the Bojangles headquarters and their franchise and that ended up working out. Then I got something special coming up. My dream collab is with Adidas because of Kobe though. I couldn’t afford a Kobe jersey and I bought a Kobe Bryant t-shirt that was Adidas and from there , my love for Adidas stuck.Then when the Adidas track pants came out and became popular, I seen everybody wearing them and it was fire.
EB:Is there anyone you look up to that motivates you to keep pushing ?
GC: At the moment, I would say JoefreshGoods probably because he’s relatable. He’s super pro black and never compromised for the dollar and I’m very big on that. Plus he shows how you can remain authentic in the creative industry .
EB: What can we look forward to next coming from your brand + what’s the long term goal for you?
GC: I see my audience is growing so I want to do more pop up shops and collaborations with companies so right now , I’m just in motion.I have an agency i’m trying to build so those are just some of long term goals because I want multiple large streams of income. As far as stuff that I’m dropping… I don’t have a schedule. As stuff comes to me, I get with my team and we create it.
EB: You technically have your team already so that agency is already put in place really.
GC: Exactly !
EB: Well this was great ! Looking forward to everything you have coming up and thank you for your convo today
Recently I had the pleasure of catching up with fellow rapper, highly respected skater, Hardies owner, and actor Na-Kel Smith . During our interview, we uncover what Nakel’s personal journey means to him, the significance of music and skate within his life, how he met his friends of Odd Future,what it meant to perform at Camp Flog Gnaw , his revolving world as a respected young leader and creative, mental health , and what’s next. Na-Kel’s perspective and contributions to various lanes shows that millennials can truly do what the hell they want to do without any barriers as long as they’re willing to put work behind it and not care about the opinions that come with it. Check out our latest Everything Boisterous interview below and let us know what you think:
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with creative director Celeste Li to chop it up about her journey as a creative, quitting her job the day before directing Flo Milli’s “Beef Flomix”, what it was like to work with the rising rapper, who she’s paying attention to in the world of film, the importance of exploring multiple goals, and what’s next for herself. Peep our interview below to peep how Celeste is fearlessly injecting herself amongst the film scene and directing her own journey.
EB: Hey, How are you ?
Celeste: I’m good, how are you ?
EB: I’m great ! So of course I know you from interning and writing with you for Vashtie but how did you start your journey as a creative ?
Celeste: Basically I always knew I wanted to work in music and I’ve always been a creative person, but I would say over the past few years, I got more serious about investing my energy and time into cultivating and exploring that through my graduate program and working at labels.
EB: How did you get into directing and who did you admire director wise just growing up ?
Celeste: Honestly I never thought that I was going to be a filmmaker. I took a year off after I graduated, then I started grad school in 2018 and a lot of the kids in my class were film students – I thought I was in over my head. I’ve always been a visual person, I’ve always been into music videos, and short films and I feel like the pieces have started to come together over the past 2 years for me. I was kind of awakened to this core piece of my passion. I knew I needed to work in music in some capacity so I said okay, maybe I need to work at a record label, and then when I started working at the label, I realized that the main shit I was interested in was always content based, I loved looking at the treatments, the decks, the videos. I think that paired with my media program in school helped me realize that the things that I was frustrated with at my job came down to the role I was playing within the industry itself, I needed to be on the other side of it completely. From a music video directorial perspective, I really admire CANADA. They produce incredible work, I love their aesthetic, and consistency, they’re phenomenal story tellers.
EB: So recently you directed Beef Flomix for rising rapper Flo Milli, how did you two get into contact ?
Celeste: Her team was looking for different treatments for the video, so I sent one and they fucked with it. The manager on the project was very supportive of giving new, young talent opportunities to shake shit up so he helped trail blaze that lane for me. From there, I had a call with Flo and her team. The situation was very unique because what I was trying to do was totally outside of my title at the label, so it wasn’t well received by some of the higher ups. Usually artists already have homies they like to work with or labels will go through a much longer process to approve so we really disrupted the system to make the play. I was met with a lot of adversity, a lot of people didn’t want me to make the video because I lacked experience, and whatever their own feelings were about me stepping outside of the lane they felt I should be in. There was a lot of doubt, and many hurdles along the way to block me from seeing it through. But I I did it anyway, it was a great opportunity, I was really excited to work with Flo and her team, and I believed in the record. I was just like no… this is a great thing and I don’t give a fuck about what anyone has to say. I quit my job at the label the week before shooting and I flew out to LA on my last day.
EB: Wow, you’re definitely fearless for surpassing through all of that. The video for sure feels really fun and confident. What would you say was your creative intention for the video and what was the best part of directing it ?
Celeste: Well first of all we worked with AVONNI which is a REALLY really dope production company. They made the process so easy and efficient. It was a bunch of young people that are hungry, creative and super open to collaborating which made me less nervous. Having to own my idea, especially this being my first video, being a female director, and being a person of color, I had to really rise to the occasion and run it. My favorite part of it all was working closely with Flo and her team. Flo was a natural, really kind, and goofy and being around her energy was really great. So much of her personality is what ultimately made the video what it is.
EB: This sounds like it was truly a genuine experience .Are there any other women in the industry who rap that you would like to work with especially given the climate of women rappers we have at this very moment ?
Celeste: I would say in the female rapper realm, I would definitely want work with Rico Nasty. I just think she’s uniquely herself, she really owns her shit. She’s not using her body as a platform and seems open to being experimental with her aesthetic. Overall though, I don’t just want to work with rappers, I want to work with house artists, pop artists, r&b artists, and foreign artists, everything. I’m super open and I listen to a lot of music. I want to tell stories, I want to be able to create dark shit, weird shit, and just be open. I want to have my hands in it all as I cultivate my craft and expand my range, I want to get to a level where Im consistently producing high art. Most importantly, I want to feel fulfilled by my work.
EB: Bouncing off of what we just spoke to in terms of the range in rap amongst women of hip hop that exists right now, what was your reaction when Jermaine Dupree made the comment about how all of them are making stripper rap ?
Celeste: I think someone like Jermaine or anyone is entitled to have an opinion but I also think some of it just sounds so ignorant and small minded. For me, I personally don’t listen to Megan Thee Stallion or Nicki Minaj but I have an awareness of what they’re doing and I see them moving. I think for women to be shamed for capitalizing off of strip club culture, and also being shamed for working at a strip club, its levels of sexism. Women are now essentially monopolizing strip clubs, having their music played and helping women that work their continue to make money… to me that’s a fantastic business model. Some men may be mad because the power dynamic has shifted. Then there’s a whole additional thing when you bring in race as a factor, especially with black women. Whether I listen to the music or not, I dont see the need to criticize others that are working to better themselves.
EB : Yeah I definitely, definitely AGREE ! Last but not least , What’s the goal for you as a director and as a creative in general ?
Celeste: I want so many things girl… My short term goal is establishing my creative media agency / creative consultancy where I can offer my directional services and be able to work in different creative capacities with artists, brands, and agencies. I want to be directing films, videos and executing my own passion projects, but I’m open to anything. I want to be have my hands in all aspects of content creation, I want to be sought after for my vision and surround myself with a team of individuals who challenge me to be sharper. I want to produce short films, documentaries, curate galleries, publish zines, everything. I have no shortage of ideas and I feel like I can help people with their ideas too not just from a visionary standpoint , but I think I can help on the operational front too due to my background in marketing etc. Overall, I want to be able to have my own production house. I want to be full service and be able to come up with treatments and have a team that will execute it by my side. I also want to have a global presence so I can work with innovators internationally. I don’t want to be behind a desk all day. If I want to move to Berlin for a few months, I want to able to do that. If I want to be in London or move to Texas, doesn’t matter, I want to be able to do that. Life is too short to not have your hands in multiple things.
EB: I think you can conquer all of these things without a doubt!
Celeste: I just really believe in manifestation , but yeah I definitely think good shit is coming my way but I’m hoping for bigger things, bigger bags, and better energy.
EB: I’m definitely going to write all of that down but I really appreciate this.
Celeste: No problem at all !
Recently caught up with architect, tech innovator, and overall creative artist Iddris Sandu who’s not only collaborating with artists of the culture to create unique experiences, but who is focused on digitally improving spaces within the culture that wont compromise who he is. In our interview, Iddris and I talk how he developed his love and skill for coding, how he met Nipsey Hussle, doing work for Kanye and Jaden Smith, being highlighted by Beyonce for Black History Month, the need for ownership, favorite rappers, his future plans, and more. Tune into our ranging and insightful conversation right now, below:
EB: Hi Iddris, hope you’re doing great today! We’ll go ahead and jump into it. How did a kid from Compton fall in love with coding ?
Iddris : I guess I could say my story starts at around the age of 11. I began to go to the library and was enamored of these programming books on programming after watching Steve Jobs unveil the first iPhone. I knew that I wanted to change the world I just didn’t know where to start that was until I started getting hip to programming (coding)
EB: So what exactly led you to coding for social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, & Instagram?
Iddris: My approach when developing has always been to make things accessible to the masses.Consumers being able to be the developers and the developers being able to create for the consumers on a large-scale meant that the solutions I had to micro-problems could be easily accessed. I wanted to make things like social media and user interactivity easier and accessible for everyone and that’s why I consulted for companies like snapchat twitter and Instagram. Companies that had created innovative services, but needed assistance with diversifying and making it accessible to the masses.
EB: So a lot of people may not know this but you’re self taught when it comes to coding and consulting for other tech companies and artists. What’s been the most important resource you’ve utilized while unfolding your craft ?
Iddris: I think for me ,the most important thing has always been understanding that I always needed to be authentically myself.The moment that you walk into a meeting and you reveal someone who is not you , you automatically compromise your image. I have always remained authentic and never sacrificed any parts of myself. I feel like people look at what I’ve done, but they don’t understand I’ve been able to do it because I’ve always been authentic at the root. I never looked at being the only black person or the only person of color as a negative trait, if anything it gave me a leverage because I had something that no one else has
EB: That’s definitely a unique way of looking at it but speaking of being authentic …you created the app for the first smart store in the world through Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon clothing store and you literally met him at Starbucks three weeks prior to this happening. Looking back it now, do you think it was fate ?
Iddris: It was absolutely the universe on our hands. It understood what needed to happen and it understood the paradigm shift that we would influence and that’s what brought us together , it was not by chance. It was what was needed by the universe to enforce the next generation of leaders of thinkers that would come from similar backgrounds as Nipsey and myself.
EB: Now, from you working with him to collaborating with Kanye and Jaden Smith , it’s clear that you are trying to touch the culture through figures that think outside of the box to ultimately design visions that the culture can be apart of and interact with. In what way are you hoping to inspire and encourage the generation that we’re apart of?
Iddris: A lot of things I do are based on the law of unconventional collaboration. You know like people will ask “why is an architect that’s built so many tech services for companies teaming up with a staple in the community?“These are the type of questions that I love to answer . I love it because you can only answer them through producing tangible results and then you showcase the product to answer that question and then people go “oh I get it”.
EB: So with you being an architect that’s bridging music with your ranging tech skill, what are some projects that you would like to design for the culture within the future?
Iddris: I don’t really want to give you like a vague answer haha — but a lot. I can’t even put a number on it or wrap the sentence around the scale at which want to create for the culture. But I want to get into sustainable furniture, City infrastructure, agriculture, and exposure (which is our new form of education)
EB: That’s really dope ! You’re literally operating within our generation, building and creating for the next which brings to me to another important point that’s more than noteable. Last month for Black History Month, THE Beyonce highlighted you in her black month appreciation post as someone who’s generating an impact and who is ultimately designing a greater space for us for the future. Now I have to ask ……How do you possibly process that kind of notoriety ?
Iddris: The reason why I have so many “celebrity“ friends is because I’ve never taken advantage of a relationship nor am I phased by a lot of the stuff. But I do appreciate and value it.But on the macro, we are in two different and separate lanes.That’s the beautiful part about being able to vibe create with people, and then go back to things you were working on.….. But I mean it’s Beyoncé though! So of course that meant a lot. Because now im like “ okay we on Jay’s (Jay-z ) radar too”
EB: I loved how you emphasize not changing up to compromise your image. You give a lot of similar game as well as additional perspective on the importance of ownership over renting in your Ted talk . In addition to that, Steve Stoute made a comment a little bit ago saying that there’s no reason that huge platforms like Twitter couldn’t have been black owned. What’s your take on that and where do you think the future of black owned tech companies is headed?
Iddris: I mean I feel like, I’m the youngest out here that’s pushing forward that message.When I talk about the infrastructure, its not just building apps and owning apps but it’s also controlling the whole operating system of where it’s housed.You know in a simplistic form, we should buy the houses, but we should also control the community.That’s how you reach true economic freedom. Vertical integration and vertical infrastructural development.
EB: I couldn’t agree more and those are some amazing points that I feel like we’re progressively realizing this and slowly (but surely) moving different from music to real-estate to us owning beauty supply stores and grocery stores. Since musical inclusion has been played a large role in your journey and on your line of architectural work thus far, I have to ask before we close out: Who are your favorite rappers dead or alive?
Iddris:Any true admire of hip hop knows that that’s a loaded question so I’ll do you a solid and give you only the ones that have created and influenced me that are breathing…. And are rappers. In that vein i will mention Lauryn Hill , Ye, Cudi, Nas, Jay, Beyonce, Andre 3000 , Yasiin Bey (mos def), Kendrick Lamar and Pac . I know I said only breathing but like….its PAC ( he breathes through me).
Recently caught up with #1 Platinum Mix Engineer and Da Baby’s dj, DJ Kid to talk everything from rising out of the south as a creative, how he met Da Baby and became his official DJ, how it feels to be a new signee amongst Interscope, advice for those coming up, and even a revealed exclusive on the name and date for Da Baby’s upcoming and first project amongst the Interscope label. Peep what me and the NC talent chopped it up about below.
Audio version available here:
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EB:Hey DJ Kid, how are you ?
DJ KID: I’m doing well, I’m doing well ! How about you ?
EB: I can’t even complain ! So we’ll go ahead and jump into things ! When I met you, you were rapping right here in NC but I had literally no idea you also Dj’d ! When did your passion for djing come about ?
DJ KID: Its crazy when people say stuff like that because that’s kinda how I’m introduced first as a artist but I’ve been dj’ing for 3-4 years forreal but the thing was..my end goal was being an artist, that was always my number one thing. That’s what I wanted my end goal to be but I’ve always been like a people person and wanting to put other people on before myself. I leaned toward being a DJ and being a background person because I was cool with that forreal
EB: So you just preferred being behind the scenes ?
DJ KID: Yeah not even just prefer but i know like… in the industry or in the game i know there’s certain steps you have to take. Everybody can’t necessarily be the superstar you know what I’m saying ? So you have to take that step back you know what I’m saying and just play your role sometimes.
EB: Right, right for sure! So how did you becoming a DJ for Da Baby take place ?
DJ KID: It’s actually pretty funny! I was dj’ing in Greensboro a lot and the /winston salem/triad area and um.. We had a show out at ECU and the dj he had at the time couldn’t make it to the show but we knew each other you know what I’m saying. So he called me like “Aye Kid I can’t fly out to make it so I need you to stand in for bruh” so i ended up djing for bro and I was just so on point like you would’ve thought i was bruh dj forreal. I was already a fan of his music so I had all his music and all his content and stuff and we kind of arranged it that way. Then DJ E.Sudd had an event called No Stress Fest in Greensboro and I ended up spinning for him (Da Baby) there. They just called me on some “you one of the hottest dj’s around and we like how you’re so point with my music and all of that so we looking forward to working with you”. Then after that, i don’t know if you knew but I also produce and engineer so I started engineering a lot of his music so it was just being in the right place at the right time honestly.
EB: Wow that’s crazy ! So how do you balance being an artist yourself and being a DJ ?
DJ KID: Pretty much the fact that I’m always in the studio. Like anywhere we go and any city we touch, I’m always around music so it’s really not that hard. Being a DJ is like.. that’s what kinda comes with me as a whole just being around music. If i’m always around music, it’s not really that hard for me to balance because their both within the same field.
EB: So Where‘d you grow up for the most part ? Here in NC ? Was your family into music? What was your upbringing like ?
DJ KID: Well I was born in Santa Clara, California. Nobody really knows that but my dad from the Bay area and my mom is from the Bay area as well so we moved out of California because we were military. We moved to like CLT, Wilmington , WInston Salem and ended up staying in Winston Salem. That’s pretty much where I came up. I stayed with my dad and moved from charlotte with my mom. Went to college in greensboro for a year and then took off with this music!
EB: Wow that’s dope. Same background here with the military and moving to Carolina, that’s a lot of us. So like being that you grew up here..just from your experience because people say different things… what’s been the hardest part and the best part about being a creative rising from the south?
DJ KID: Um…I’d say the hardest part is I feel like we don’t have as much support as like other major cities have. Like Atlanta… as far as the artist, producer, and DJ… before in the past years we didn’t really have that support we needed to like support each other, everybody just wanted to be that IT factor.Now it’s looking like everybody is seeing the glue. Like when Da Baby got on, everybody was like “okay it takes a team and people actually supporting each other so why don’t we give it a try”. So i been seeing alot of that lately
DJ KID: Good things about growing up in North Carolina and being apart of the team is.. I’d have to say just because people weren’t so supportive of each other like… just having to be on your own, you had to have that mindset of kind of being selfish sorta say but um, really defining yourself and finding your own path and showing people that you really want it so you can get the attention you need.
EB: For sure, I definitely agree. Although it can be tough to rise out of certain spaces especially in the south, you and Da Baby both recently signed to Interscope Records in conjunction with South Coast Music Group and that’s def a huge deal in itself . How does all of this feel for you rn ?
DJ KID: I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s surreal because I know where we came from. A lot of people were pretty much doubting Da Baby, a lot of people were doubting me as a DJ. I’m not gonna say like laughing in people’s face type deal but it’s like.. we actually did this. We put it together and we putting on for the city. It’s no longer just about us, it’s about everybody. Well he’s moreso the face of North Carolina. If you put it in his words, he won’t say it but imma say it for him. He’s like the face of North Carolina so he’s kinda like the big brother that everyone’s looking up to.
EB: That’s dope and I feel you! What do you think has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far in your career?
I’d say watch people’s intentions and stay consistent because you know.. some people will leech onto you just because of what you got going on and sometimes you can get blinded by that and not see what people’s true intentions are. Before you let anyone into your life especially if your doing big things or just getting started, see people’s true intentions because you want those real genuine people around you. You don’t want people that are just going to be here for the season, you want long life relationships that way you can build.
EB: Right, definitely ! So i know you are back on the road starting tomorrow along with Da Baby but what can we look forward to from you this year as an artist overall ?
DJ KID: For myself or Da Baby ?
EB: Both !
DJ KID: Word, for Da Baby we got a project dropping on March 1st called Baby on Baby, the first project with Interscope this year so that’s going to be super huge. We shooting for the stars , we thinking it’s going platinum. We know it’s going platinum but more tour, more shows, and we got a world-wide tour coming up. You’re the first to really hear that, I don’t think we’ve spoke on that with anyone else but yeah a lot of dope stuff for bro. Really proud of him, a lot going on.
EB: Wow, that’s definitely amazing. What about you on the music tip? Do you think you’re going to stay focused on DJing for right now and kinda get back to the rapping later or are you gonna go ahead and fulfill your other crafts?
DJ KID: Really i got hella projects that I just haven’t dropped but um, we really just focused on Da Baby right now and for him to be great and be that big brother and show people we deserve what’s going on right now. We not the only ones that can do this, it’s other people that can knock down the door. The door is pretty much knocked down now, we just need everybody else to step up to the plate.
EB: Definitely! Well this has been great and it was great speaking with you.
DJ KID: Fasho ! Thank you
According to Forbes, NBA2k18 was the highest selling sports game of 2017. Outside of the special effects and virtual advances everyone looks forward to in the game every year, another aspect that every consumer and fan looks forward to within the game is it’s soundtrack. While the virtual outlet started off as just a video game, it has evolved into a unique part of the culture and especially within the hip hop community. Just like in real life how the NBA and music go hand in hand these days go, that same energy is transferred and used within the setting of the virtual and cultural phenomenon. These days our favorite players are bumping their favorite music at the moment through social media and through their brand commercials (like when Russell Brook danced to Lil Uzi in the Jordan Brand commercial back in 2016). When it comes to the game however, who exactly is responsible for bringing artists on the rise and what’s fresh in the current music climate to the NBA2K table ? NBA2K Soundtrack Curator, Michael Howard.
At first NBA2K wasn’t too sure on what music would appeal to their audience but that all came to a closure once Howard stepped up to the plate. With only a high-school diploma, Michael managed to lock a job as a tester right after graduation and gradually moved up to marketing, and eventually decided to use his passion for music to make changes within the brand. One day Howard suggested songs like “Grindin” by Clipse and Pharrell’s “How Does It Feel?” to break up the cycle of the rock and roll classics the team had already conditioned themselves to. Once the team reached out to Pharrell with Michael’s suggestions, the legend complimented the choosing of tracks that Michael wanted to utilize. From there, Howard would carve out a whole new position within the brand that would have no choice but to be reckoned with. Not only would music from all levels now have a shot at being heard, but he would now have the upper hand in contributing to an artist’s extensive reach in audience. With the steps Michael has taken within the NBA2k brand, many artist outside of mainstream can have a shot at being publishable within one of the most popular games in the culture which is a conversation that hasn’t been voiced until now.
During the interview, Michael and I talk about discovering artists through SoundCloud, why Michael is excited about Pierre Bourne being apart of this year’s edition and why, what NBA2K looks for in a track and in the artist in order to consider them as “publishable”, and who has his eye in music regarding underground vs mainstream
EB:So as the sound curator of NBA2K, who do you have more interest in? Underground artists or mainstream ?
Michael: That’s a really good question. For me personally, obviously you got to have the big name artists because that’s a big deal but for me I like highlighting new underground talent or up and coming bubbling artists. The big names are going to get placements and get put on the radio more often than a new artist. I like to be able to help a new artist and get people to see what this person is doing from their own town like a Cousin Stizz from Boston, Vintage Lee, even like a Linda Lind from LA. There’s different types of artists that I like to mess with. It can be EDM, pop, rap, but I look for a number of things.
EB: That’s really awesome.Who are some of the artists you were excited about for this year’s soundtrack and why ?
Michael: So I was really excited to hear and work with Pierre Bourne. I make beats so I really enjoy just listening to his music, his production, what he’s doing, and how far he’s come along as well. He has an amazing story so that to me is an artist that I looked forward to putting on the soundtrack and working with.
EB: Pierre has really done so much including things for Adidas so he’s truly taking over. Do you feel like the SoundCloud era has benefited NBA2K in anyway ?
Michael: That’s a really good question. What I love about the internet and music being so accessible is that you’re seeing a lot of people create music and they’re influenced by so many different things. It can be cartoons, older music from the 80s and 70s, movies, and things like that. I think these different platforms are allowing any type of artist to upload music and be discovered. You can even look at Lil Uzi Vert right and he’s on the 2K soundtrack but he started on SoundCloud. Look at where he’s at now doing big shows, Rolling Loud, and things like that. I think it’s not only influenced not just video games but sports , fashion, and different avenues as well.
EB: What are some characteristics of music as well as characteristics of an artist that would appeal to a platform such as NBA2K?
Michael: So when i look at artists as a curator, they definitely have to match NBA 2K’s lifestyle. NBA2K has become much more of a pop cultural piece. Of course it started off as a video game but now it’s used to bond with a friend then it leads to the jokes talking about “who’s better at 2k?” so I think it has to match the lifestyle of things. Also, it has to match the energy. I really like to hear music that makes me to want to play sports, get on the court, and shoot hoops. You gotta remember that there are NBA players listening to this as well so it definitely has to match the energy and get people pumped up so yeah, energy and lifestyle.
EB: Is there any advice you could possibly give to artists on the rise who would want to be featured on the highly anticipated soundtrack such as this one?
Michael: That’s actually a question I get more often than most. I think for the most part I would say that if you are making a song and you want it to get placed not just for 2K but for other brands, make sure the song is marketable. Make sure there’s not alot of references to guns and alcohol and things like that. If there are curse words, it can be edited out. Make sure there’s a clean version of the song that 9 and 11 year old kids can listen to and it’s not going to be an issue. Think about that when making songs for big brands.
EB: Who are some of your favorite underground artists right now ?
Michael: So this list is interesting because for me I listen to things that are so cutting edge and fresh at times but there’s this kid Sammy K. I just listened to his stuff at A3C, it was amazing. I also listened to this kid Isaiah Raps, he’s amazing, pretty lyrical, got energy as well, and then Lil Mosey. I feel like he’s really melodic, he definitely has the choruses, he’s amazing, and I like him as well.
EB: What are your thoughts on utilizing urban dances in video games ?
Michael: There’s so many games who are utilizing dances in pop culture. I think it’s one of those lash out elements that NBA2K brings to a game. We have signature dance moves and we also have walk animations and running animations. So you can do these crazy dance moves that everyone is doing on tv and music videos and still run around like an anime character. I think it’s something we’ll try to do more of in the following years but yeah we want to make sure we’re right there with the internet.
EB:Do you see any cons as far as how games such as fortnite or even pop cultural games such as 2K utilize the dances that people create ?
Michael: Honestly I’m not really quite sure how all of that works to tell you the truth. I do know that if you do something and you’re really good at doing it, make sure people know you created that. I would look at it like music or anything you’re doing in business. Make sure before you put something out there, you’re the owner of it. That’s just my personal opinion.
EB:Great answer. Last but not least, could we possibly ever see a showcase or concert for future releases of NBA2K soundtracks ?
Michael: I think we’re interested in doing something like that. We’ve definitely talked about doing a showcase and being apart of festivals.I think we’re possibly going to be apart of festivals in the coming future but yeah we’re really interested in it. Just seeing a lot of the artists backstage play 2K before they go on stage and after they go on stage, it just makes sense to do a tournament or throw some event with these guys. Even if we’re just playing hoops in the back.
EB:Right, it’s culture
Michael:Yeah so we’re definitely interested in it, it just has to make sense for everybody and we never really want to do something to just do it so it would really have to be something cool.
EB: Well thank you Michael. This has been awesome, thank you for your time.
Michael: No problem, thanks for having me!
EB: Alexander Mack! Welcome , how are you ?
Alexander: Im doing well, I’m doing well!
EB: So if someone hadn’t listened to your music before, what would be one word you could describe your music with?
Alexander: I would definitely say that you could always expect it to be nostalgic, definitely a nostalgic feel.
EB: That’s dope! So I heard that you’re a VA native, what part of VA are you from ?
Alexander: I’m really from a small town called Blackstone, a town with like 5 to 7 people which is right by Richmond!
EB: Thats whats up ! I’m originally from Newport News so I’m familiar !
Alexander: Ahhh the 757 ! Nice!
EB: Right! Bad News ! So you’re an artist on the rise who originally started out producing. Now I was listening to your Biggie Small’s edit right before I called from like 3 years back and then I heard you rapping on a song with Masego on a Crystal Waters sample. What made you transition from one to the other?
Alexander: Um I would say I started producing when I was about 14 years old and I really started playing the piano at 6 years old. So I went from playing the piano to singing in the choir to producing and then to rapping. I would say I started rapping to get better at songwriting because I originally just sang and then I started rapping to get better at flowing and rhyme schemes and then went from there. I actually rapped for a year before I ever put anything up. I just kept rapping and kinda kept it to myself.
EB: So I’m curious, how did you and Masego link to make “Like That” ?
Alexander: It was probably about 3 years ago. We actually had a mutual friend in college and that’s how we ended up meeting so it was just super by chance!
EB: Now I heard that Stevie Wonder was your biggest influence which I feel like rarely gets referenced in this music era that we’re in. Maybe two or 3 people in music that I might see that Stevie influence come through is Blood orange and Theophilus London’s older material and maybe even Masego as well. In what way has Stevie personally influenced you as an artist ?
Alexander: I would say he has inspired me from his instrument chord progression to just how Stevie can sound completely different depending on what song he’s on. There has been times when he has changed his voice to play a woman on a song he’s on with himself. He’s produced a lot of his own stuff and I can definitely identify with that and then his songwriting is just next level. To me, he’s one of the greatest song writers ever. Theres just so many elements of how he does what he does that has always inspired me in my own music.
EB: So as an artist on the rise that is coming out the south especially, how difficult has your journey been as you climb up the come up ?
Alexander: Coming from like a smaller place in the south and being a different artist like me, it’s pretty difficult because you know….my sound and really just away from music, my personality and my mindset is so different. People didn’t really know how to receive the music at first and when I started out a few years ago, people didn’t know how to receive it because it wasn’t the norm. Now that you have artists like Childish Gambino and Chance The Rapper and people get it now, that opens the door for me a little bit but yeah it was super hard in the beginning. Even still down here, people are still heavy into Boosie and southern rap and being from the south, I definitely respect that art form because it captures a certain lifestyle that’s very true to the south. Growing up, I couldn’t relate to everything that was being said. I was listening to Gambino in like 2009 and Logic in 2010 and that stuff is accepted now but yeah that was a main struggle while starting because I didn’t know what I really identified with.
EB: When did you realize what was going to be your sound ? Like when did you have that ” I don’t want to rap on trap drums but maybe rap with a harmonica in the background instead” kind of moment ?
Alexander: I originally was inspired to do this jazz rap back in 2014 . Jazz was played in my house all the time and I heard it even before rap. When I was in college, I would listen to tons of Duke Ellington and then I got heavy into Tribe Called Quest and that’s when I kind of had the epiphany that I could mix these different styles. I think my style will continue to change but yeah tha’s when it really started.
EB: Now considering those experiences from being an artist on the rise out of a small town within the south to finding your sound, are these the things that made you write your latest song “Small Time” ?
Alexander: For sure. Small Time is basically about me growing up in a place where it was never seen as a plausible career choice to be an artist. Like the last person to come out of this area of VA was Lady of Rage from the 90s who grew up 20 minutes away from where I’m from. You deal with people that tell you to do something “different” and even professors told me to let this go . I think everyone who has a dream or aspiration that isn’t “normal” go through being told to think realistically about what you want to do at some point. I was going through that and I was really reluctant to put this song out. On this upcoming project I get really personal especially about the post grad struggle and depression that comes with it.
EB: Yeah, I definitely feel and that 100%!
Alexander: Yeah you see! I feel like it’s something that’s really not talked about almost at all!
EB: Definitely not !
Alexander: Then with social media, you’re supposed to put your best foot forward and everyone looks like they’re doing great when we’re all really going through the same problems no matter what area you’re in. Rather its going back to school, the financial struggle, or multiple struggles, they’re all similar . I was reluctant to put the song out but now that I have, it’s gotten great reactions, and Im honestly happy because I held on to it for about a year.
EB: Exactly ! Well I’m definitely glad you made the song considering that the content is so relevant to what a lot of people are going through right now. I know you mentioned that this song along with other personal content would be featured on your upcoming EP. Judging off the music I’ve already heard, I’m ready. When can we expect a project to drop?
Alexander: With a full length project….I would definitely say the end of the year or the top of 2019. I’m excited to put it out because I’ll hold things for a year and a half and later tweak things again but I think I have a good batch of songs that tell a story top to bottom. So yeah expect something between the end of the year and the top of 2019.
EB: Now with my last question for you, I usually ask “what are your plans are 5 and 10 years from now?” but we won’t do that here. What I REALLY want to know is: As an artist on the rise, what’s currently more mandatory for you to achieve? Impact or is it clout ?
Alexander: In a world where clout tokens are at an all time importance, I try to keep it about what I’m saying. You can do anything at this point in time and get clout especially on Instagram because you see some crazy things. It’s been times where I was going through something and Logic or J.Cole drops a song that related to exactly what I was going through and I made that a point to really pave that forward. I’ve been through some internal things so I try to keep it about what I’m saying. My music is very bright and positive but I know that everything in life isn’t good all the time and I like having a message to get across so that for me is my main focus. I want to also bring musicality back. I want to make it cool to play an instrument again or just like..sing in the choir if you want to sing in the choir or go do theater if you want to be in theater because I know we used to get made fun of back in the day (laughs). I just want to contribute and I think it was Kanye that came in and made black kids be like “oh you don’t have to look or sound a particular way to be a rapper”, then with Cudi then it was Gambino after that. Now you can look at all these different people and know that you don’t have to look a certain way right now to do whatever you want to do. That’s the most important thing that I want to keep going.