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2K! – ILLwriteR Interview

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Cincinnati, Ohio-bred, Austin-based rapper and songwriter 2K! took a few minutest to sit down with ILLwriteR and give us a few insights.

  • Describe the typical 2K! fan.

Any 2K! fan has had a strong struggle in life that’s led them to Hip-Hop in some way shape or fashion. They look for an escape from the problems they’re currently facing and share the same vision of being great and becoming successful.

  • What do you think the old school can learn from the new school and vice versa?

I feel the old school can learn from the new school to stop taking Hip-Hop so seriously. If they pay close enough attention then they can realize the problems with the “New Wave” that have raised in Hip-Hop are due to the decisions they made. On the other hand the new school could learn to take music a bit more seriously. I don’t consider myself in either class, but all in all both just need to learn to listen.

  • What’s Cincinnati like, both as a city and a hip-hop scene?

Growing up in Cincinnati was a journey in itself. There were times you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from, or a stray drive by bullet. Everyday there was something new. As far as the Hip-Hop scene it could range from new wave to lyrical gangsta rap. I’ve gotten a few fam that’s added to that scene other than myself, but the flavor of Cincinnati’s Hip-Hop scene lies in the renaissance I feel I’m commencing in Hip-Hop alone.

  • What’s your favorite verse in hip-hop history and why?

One of my top verses is from the song Control by Big Sean Ft. Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica. I admired the intensity of Kendrick’s verse, and not just because of him calling out all major rappers in the game. But more of the meaning behind it. It was almost as if Kendrick was being Knighted into the game from that verse. Regardless of the outcome of that song Kendrick would’ve still gotten the same response. Regardless of how the rappers responded Kendrick would’ve still had control.

  • Your new single is about freedom from money. How do you propose to attain that?

I consider my single to be more about freedom from anything that is not yourself. Recognizing that you hold the keys to your own destiny. There’s no true proposal I can make that’ll say I’ll always act in character but the action is held in to be or not to be/ to do or not to do. The only thing I can say will help me attain that is being myself.

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3TB – ILLwriteR Interview

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Troy and Saps are the members that consist of 3 Times Better, and their previous projects include Rose to the Riche$ and The Throwaways. They have collaborated with AD to create mixtapes and opened shows for Ty Dolla Sign and Mase.  Recently, we at ILLwriteR were able to catch up with the rap duo to get a few questions answered

  • What advice do you have for upcoming rappers?

Don’t expect for everything to happen at once. Be consistent and don’t let the negativity stop you. Work with the right people. That one is easier said than done though, so make sure you do your research on everyone you do business with. Most importantly, treat your music like a business. Take your craft serious, be different, and continue to learn!

  • Do you freestyle and battle rap? What’s your opinion on them?

That’s funny because our group started after a drunk night freestyling with friends. So we like to freestyle but we usually do it after being buzzed. We have a song we dropped called “The Battle” where we go back and forth in an actual rap battle. Something we never heard or done before, but we do enjoy battle rapping.

  • What would be your dream team collaboration and why?

If it was a slow RnB song we would have to go with Miguel. A pop/hiphop song would have to be Mac Miller.

  • Why did you name your EP The Throwaways?

“The Throwaways” consists of unreleased music from previous projects. The music comes from projects “Rose to the Riches” and “Something for the Drive”.

  • What was it like opening up for Ty Dolla Sign?

Opening up for Ty was one of our first big shows so we were nervous but very prepared. Shout out our DJ @Thebighomiesteve because without him we wouldn’t have the unique stage presence that we do. Show was lit and had a great response to our single “Simple” ft AD.

Pennjamin Bannekar – ILLwriteR Interview

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It does not take much skill set or genius marketing these days for an artist to acquire fame and prestige. Post a nude picture on social media or record music lacking depth and substance and the artist literally becomes part of hip-hop’s Walking Dead. Get it? “I do not think we have to be as talented as in the past. With technology like Auto Tune, any artist can sound good,” states the Chicago artist with much potential equipped with image and branding to maximize artistic success.

He is Pennjamin Bannekar, the LL Cool J of Chicago music without the Kangol hat, gold chains, and muscles. Not to confuse him for a sucker. His artistry is to be taken seriously. He creates music for the fellas and has a huge female fanbase that are head over heels for him. Perhaps it is his suave charismatic nature, babyface appeal, commanding stage presence, microphone control with soul, and a unique stage name that rivals the competitive artistic pool.

“I was always known as Penn when I started rapping. I was later given the stage name Pennjamin Bannekar; a name I scorned when I was part of the [Chicago hip-hop trio] Project: Fr3sh,” uttered the artist. Benjamin Banneker was an African American author, mathematician, and astronomer. “I got creative by changing the spelling of the famous African American historical figure’s name to make it more suitable and appropriate to [my artistry],” highlighted Pennjamin Bannekar.  He is a huge history buff and, “Wanted to pay reverence to Benjamin Banneker.”

Besides his interesting stage name, Pennjamin Bannekar’s moniker adlib makes him distinguished. Jadakiss is known for his raspy voice and baby laugh and Diddy is known for his “take that” marque on records. For Pennjamin, it is his signature catchphrase, “Hey, Well Alright!” He adds, “The inspiration came from J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights. I would hear Cole adlib “Hey!” I liked it!” He does not know where “Well Alright” derived. “The words seemed to organically fit together. I have been running with it since.”

Besides a creative stage name and adlib comes an inimitable album title. “The album is simplistically titled 1/11 because it dropped on my birthday,” said an enthusiastic Pennjamin. For the album to be titled as such and to be released on his born day must be of great significance. “The numbers 1/11 have meaning behind it. They imply whatever I focus on will eventually come true.” He adds, “Things in my life tend to manifest whether positive or negative. I can sometimes be my own obstacle.” The title of the album is a, “Constant reminder to remain positive during chaotic times.”

Pennjamin Bannekar, just like any artist, needed to perfect his work in order for it to be properly delivered on a special occasion like this. “I worked on it for nearly two years. It was only right to push the date to January.” He goes in detail about the recording process of 1/11. “I used an old I-phone to play the music and hum melodies when recording this album. Once I got the melody to [precision], I went to the studio to expound on it some more.” If the song is seamless, “I write and record to it and come to Chicago producer J. Hill’s studio for mixing.” If the song is not to his liking, “I leave it as is or it gets [discarded].”  Forty songs were recorded and only eight appear on 1/11. “It is all about feeling, praise, and how people responded that determined which songs made the final cut,” explains Pennjamin Bannekar.

The album is unlike the rest of his discography. “My debut solo album Heartbeat was released after Project: Fr3sh went their separate ways [to pursue other interests]. I was trying to prove myself and to the world I can rap and be able to stand on my own as an artist.” His [sophomore] album Paper Plane Pilots is his Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak. “It was therapeutic for me to record this album as I was getting over a serious relationship that did not work out.” With 1/11, “I wanted to make music for people to vibe out to and feel good.”

Pennjamin Bannekar does not necessarily deem himself as a hip-hop artist. “I rap but I am more into making [illustrious] music ranging from singing to rapping not only for myself but for other artists.” He elucidates, “Other artists may be skillful in the art of rap and that is great.” He is not in competition with anyone but him. “I am trying to be the best me- Pennjamin Bannekar. There will be artists that want to emulate my style of rap just like many try to impersonate Future and his melodic style of music.”

In the end, he wants to be remembered for his contributions in music. “When the public hear of Chicago, I want for them to compare me to the greats like Kanye West.” Long live Pennjamin Bannekar!

Pennjamin Bannekar continues his interview with journalist Hector De La Rosa as he discusses each song concept on his latest offering 1/11.

Best Life

This is the first song on the album and the last song I recorded. It is considered the Birthday theme song. If a celebrity like Diddy throws me a party, I would tell him to play this song as I make my grand entrance to the place where the party is held.

Arcade

This song contains a sample from The Notorious BIG’s classic “Juicy” Here, I started to sing to the melody for no particular reason. The song’s concept descends from a Saturday night experience at Dave & Busters with a good friend of mine. We kicked it, played video games, and had great conversation. Next day, I made a song based on this experience. Though, I wrote the song as if I were on a date night with a woman.

Don’t Say That

I got creative with this record spitting a hot sixteen on the mic after hearing the production to this song. The song showcases my lyrical [agility] at best. I used to listen to a team of people tell me whether or not to address a certain issue on a particular song. Either the song was too real or sensitive for listeners. In this case, I decided to block what everyone had to say and perfected a blazing record.

Money Drop featuring D2G

This is the baller’s anthem for individuals who get direct deposit on payday and not having to deal with adulting or paying bills. The feeling of having money left over in the bank account is a great feeling. The money left over can be used on shopping sprees to buy Nikes.

Alter Prayer

I recorded this song a year ago. It is my Kanye WestJesus Walks” type of record that touches on those who believe in God and are spiritual. Though, do not necessarily attend church. I happened to be one of those individuals. People make excuses not to attend church service, perhaps being too long or it takes away their time from watching Sunday NFL Football. This is my interpretation.

-Hector De La Rosa

@_Here_2_Edutain_

J. Hollins – ILLwriteR Interview

11169777_10155429579620162_1873452444753805985_o“R&B is nonexistent in mainstream,” expressed a concerned Chicago musician and vocal sensation J. Hollins during his interview with IllwriteR’s Hector De La Rosa. “Artists are not contributing the element of soul or the art of lovemaking in the music.” A moment ago, the vocalist heard a Top 8 at eight and to, “my surprise not one R&B record was played. Mainstream considers artists like Fetty Wap R&B for his melodic rapping.” He clearly states Wap is not considered R&B or soul music.

This is where opportunity lies for the soulful crooner. J. Hollins regards his music as, “the soundtrack of a lifetime. I compose and deliver contemporary/traditional R&B not exclusively for SoundScan notoriety but for [the masses] to groove to while singing in the shower, cleaning the house, or during date nights.”

He creates music people can create everlasting memories to verses releasing music to garner streams only for the [the masses] to forget it exists. “Music is treated as a disposable item,” mentioned J. Hollins with frustration. “It has been habitual for us to create and cultivate things only to put them down like a toddler who gets a new toy for Christmas and plays with it until he/she gets bored.” He chuckles and at the same time displays seriousness. He adds, “the toddler does not pay attention to the toy until someone else comes along and makes use of it.” He suggests a change in mentality. “Consumers and fanatics should take more time appreciating and supporting music especially R&B than spending time abhorring what is being labeled as great music.”    

Today’s R&B artists sound similar without distinction: auto-tune over trap production. For J. Hollins, “dichotomy and duality make me different from other hip-hop/soul R&B acts. I have a distinctive voice.” His songwriting and subject matter are, “more intricate and detailed than the typical artist. My lyrics paint pictures.” Not many artists can actually sing and rap. For this singer, he manages to do well with both. This is demonstrated in his latest endeavor and best work to date Casanova Black (A Love Story).

“This album is an infusion of heavy drums, striking chords, [thumping] bass, vocal arrangements and harmonies at its finest,” propose J. Hollins. He recorded up to twenty songs for the album. Only seven made the final cut. “I wrote this album like I was writing a [script] to a movie.” He knew how he wanted it to start and when to end.

Casanova Black (A Love Story)” has a sophisticated and mature sound from other albums [in my discography],” explains the impassioned singer. “It tells a story of a strained relationship between a couple and the [quest] to rekindle their love. Question is will they stand the test of time and be able to weather the storm?” This is where the masses tune in to hear the fate of the troubled couple.

While listening, the masses may ask who Casanova Black is. His reply, “There is a distinction between J. Hollins and Casanova Black.” He goes in-depth, “Casanova Black is who I am on stage, in front of the camera, and in videos. J. Hollins is a devoted husband, father, and personal trainer with a voice of gold.” “A friend of mine gave me that name for my suave, debonair, and charismatic nature. Therefore, I made it my artistic persona.”

Besides the current state of R&B, the maturity of J. Hollins and of his friends served an inspiration in creating Casanova Black (A Love Story). “It is gratifying to see us all transform from boys to men by becoming great boyfriends, fiancés, fathers, and husbands without society dictating their standards and norms of what is acceptable for us as men.”

Hollins wants for people to take something valuable from songs like “Heartbreak Therapy” or “If I.” He adds, “If my music helps them navigate their way through pain caused by [love’s heartbreak] and mend hearts, I accomplished my purpose in my artistry.” J. Hollins continues his interview with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of Casanova Black (A Love Story) most noteworthy tracklist.

Chose Not to See

The song centers on the popular guy everyone loves whose profession is either an athlete or entertainer. He has a significant other that loves him. However, he is the life of the party and a lover of many women. Eventually, he loses the [apple of his eye] due to his carelessness. He faults her for always taking him back the minute he slips up when she knows the kind of man he is and the lifestyle he carries. Men can relate to this record. I am sure many of us have been in this kind of predicament.

Heartbreak Therapy

This song is the aftermath of the single “Chose Not to See.” After the heavy partying, strident liquor consumption, and smashing rebound women, buddy sits by his lonely thinking of the impairment done to the relationship- a childish act. He realized his significant other did not care about his public persona, [materialism, or prestige]. She loved him for who he was and saw something he did not see in himself.

Love You

This song is considered the apology record. It lyrically cites, ‘In the past I know I hurt you/ Please believe I never meant to.’ The fella learns from his growing pains and tries to win her heart. He asks for a second chance. There is ample begging going on in the record.

I wanted that nostalgic gritty analog sound that hardly exists in today’s music and pay homage to the ‘90s. It seemed fit to use the Jodeci interpolation on this record. The sound of the quartet was refreshing during that particular era. The idea was [a no brainer].

180 featuring Kng Drty

This record is the continuation of the “Love You” single. It is obvious she wants to stay with him and vice versa. Though, she contemplates whether their love is [worth fighting for or for the both to go their separate ways]. He knows she is acerbically hurt and wants to punish him. He wants to pick up where they left off promising what was done in the past will never happen again.

Shut It Down featuring Hyph

This song summarizes how he becomes a better man. What he used to entertain no longer interests him. He has matured to where he had no problem shutting down the very things that blinded him from true love. He values his significant other by putting [that woman first].   

-Hector De La Rosa

@Here_2_Edutain_

Precyce Politix [of Stallone & Weathers] – Interview

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Before 2017 closed, ILLwriteR got a chance to catch up with Precyce (of Stallone & Weathers) to chop it up about their most recent project release.

  • Where did the inspiration to record this entire project come from?

Precyce Politix: We both like the same type of music with minor differences. We have always wanted to make a body of work that gives people chills and neck aches. Open-Car-Door music is what I call it. You know when you pull up on the block and jump out the car and leave your door open so everyone can hear what you are playing in your system!? That’s the kind of music we wanted to make. Something that makes you put your hoody on and jog an extra 2 miles because of how gritty it is. Something that makes you want to pick up your pen and write 32 bars like it’s nothing because of the inspiration from the lyricism. Something that makes a producer go from 4 beats a day to 12 because of the nostalgia that they may feel from hearing how the music comes together. Once we hit the studio it came together like a good plan.

  • Why did you title the album Stallone & Weathers?

Precyce Politix: Hill and I have been working together for quite a while before we even thought of this. He has helped me develop as an artist, just like Apollo helped Rocky develop into an actual boxer. Before Apollo, Rocky was just a brawler. No defense, no finesse, no footwork. After Apollo, Rocky became a complete fighter under the tutelage and training of a legend. Pretty much fits us to a point. I was just a Brooklyn rapper before K-Hill. Now I know what it is to be an actual artist. Still learning by the way.

  • What do you want the public to walk away with after listening to the EP?

Precyce Politix: I want them to walk away with the EP itself! I want them to just have that feeling of “damn, this was some good music!” I want the writers and the up and coming artists to walk away with confidence, the confidence to do what THEY want to do and the confidence to stay true to themselves in this art, because you better believe that S&W is going to do whatever we want to do music wise no matter what time it is industry wise.

  • How is this album different from your previous discography?

Precyce Politix: As far as my discography goes, it’s the same formula, but just updated and elevated. The flows and patterns have been tightened, and the lyrics have evolved enough to have more of “me” in them. More personality, more knowledge, not just hard bars and catchy metaphors, there are some jewels and real-life experiences in the verses now, making them more enjoyable and easier to write honestly. Song structures are better too.

  • Where are you currently at in your life and in your musical career?

Precyce Politix: Nowhere near where I want to be for both. Still gaining a buzz. I have a family now. Just had my son/sun come into this world 7 months ago, no more games. Everything has to work. There is no other option. Whether it’s being the best at my 9 to 5, or being a legend in this music, for me, one of these things if not both of these things WILL happen. I will accept nothing less.

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

Precyce Politix: Poetry and being a street-smart nerd. The poetry turned into rap over time. As far as the street stuff, I never sold drugs or anything that you hear every other rapper claiming but I have seen a lot and been through a lot more, but you can’t really speak on those things to your parents or anybody really, you learn to keep your mouth shut quickly unless you wanted to catch a buck fifty or worse. I had my notebook, I knew my notebook would never speak on the things that I wrote about seeing. It all just went from there.

  • What is the ultimate goal for you as an artist with your music career?

Precyce Politix: Branch out into acting and directing and discovering other talent. Make a classic or 3, live comfortably off of the money made from all business endeavors.

  • How are you unique from other artists? What makes you different from other artists?

Precyce Politix: I am me. Hard to duplicate me. You may be able to master the flow, you might even be able to re-tell the stories and insert yourself in them as the main character but nobody can be me, just like nobody can be you. Other clowns may put on the makeup, but at the end of the day, there is only one Joker.

  • How do you feel about the current state of music? Do you feel it drastically changed?

Precyce Politix: Everything changes drastically over time. I feel that music is in a very interesting and exciting place and it’s our turn to contribute to and become a part of its rich history. No matter what happens inside the industry or otherwise, we will always be Stallone & Weathers and we will always have our own sound.

  • What are some of the misconceptions the public has over artists?

Precyce Politix: That we disrespect women all the time, get rich overnight and that we have topless women with huge asses running around us all the time waiting for the next video shoot. Nowhere near the truth. We have families. We have responsibilities outside of music. We get sick of this s**t sometimes! It gets difficult, but we push through and keep doing what we love. Oh yeah, and this is expensive as hell if you doing it on your own like we are currently. So don’t think we ballin’. Not at all.

  • Advice to aspiring musicians and advice to the youth who are often misguided in this world?

Precyce Politix: Stick to your beliefs and stand tall on your own two. It’s alright to be the one that doesn’t do what everybody else is doing. It’s alright to be yourself. You have your own story to tell, so tell it the best way you can and keep it funky. Be you, because you are the dopest person you know. Real talk.

  • What do you think needs to take place for the music industry to recognize Raleigh as a city with so much talent?

Precyce Politix: U.N.I.T.Y.

Audrey Valentine – Interview

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After posting her latest single last week, ILLwriteR got a chance to catch up with Audrey Valentine for a quick interview!  We look forward to a great 2018 coming from this singer/songwriter!

  • Where did the inspiration to record this song come from?

At the time that I wrote this song, I had been dating someone for about 5 months. We had plenty ups and downs within that period of time, but I couldn’t really see myself moving forward without him. So he was definitely my inspiration behind this song.

  • Why did you title the single “Never Let You Go”?

I gave it that title because I literally didn’t wanna let that person go! Although deep down, I knew that our relationship wasn’t very healthy.

  • What do you want the public to walk away with after listening to the single?

I just want the public to understand how strong my songwriting abilities are, not just my singing abilities. I literally wrote the entire song, the feature artist’s part included. I wanted this song to be a great example of my strong songwriting skills.

  • How is this single different from your previous discography?

My most previous work before this was my EP Love Hangover, which was a breakup album. I was in a very negative headspace when I made that project, so now that I’ve healed and moved on, I wanted to reflect someone who was in a more fulfilling, happier situation.

  • Where are you currently at in your life and in your musical career?

Right now I’m working full time at Northwestern University, which is definitely the best company I’ve had the pleasure of working for thus far. However, I’m still not where I envision myself being in my music career. It’s a challenge because I definitely am not where I used to be. I feel like my music career is progressing, just not as fast as I would like for it to. But with continued hard work, and consistency, I know that it’ll only be a matter of time.

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I’ve wanted to be a singer for as long as I can remember. I never wanted to do anything else. Music has always been my first love from the time I was very young, and I was taught that when choosing a career you should pursue something you love doing. So doing music was always a no-brainer for me.

  • What is the ultimate goal for you as an artist with your music career?

Ultimately, I see myself being on a much larger scale so that I can reach out to the masses. I see myself being an impactful R&B artist as well as an amazing songwriter in the music industry.

  • How are you unique from other artists? What makes you different from other upcoming Chicago artists?

I feel like most of the artists around me are so consumed with following a wave, or a trend, whereas I really wanna create my own. A lot of people in Chicago are doing the same thing, which makes them all sound so similar, but I’m striving to create my own sound. Aside from me being an authentic R&B artist, so that alone sets me apart from the others.

  • How do you feel about the current state of music? Do you feel it drastically changed?

Absolutely! Which is a good thing, because music changes with each generation. However, this current state of music worries me, mainly because people seem to be more concerned about popularity over actual talent. I know plenty of people that have built an entire career in the industry and don’t have a lick of real talent (just my opinion). So it sometimes makes me feel like artists like myself don’t stand a real chance.

  • What are some of the misconceptions the public has over artists?

I think some misconceptions the public has about artists is that they’re extremely superficial and have no real care or concern for others.

  • Advice to aspiring musicians and advice to the youth who are often misguided in this world?

The best advice I could give is to simply stay true to themselves. There are so many people that love trying to conform others into what THEY think they should become. That same idea goes towards aspiring musicians. Instead of trying to fit into someone else’s music standards, simply put all of that energy into becoming the best version of yourself you can be, both as an artist and as a person.

  • What do you think needs to take place for the music industry to recognize Chicago as a city with so much talent?

I think the industry needs to shift the focus just a bit. There are a ton of talented artists here in Chicago, but not all of them are rappers. Not everyone does drill music. So I think if they began to seek different artists from other genres they’ll begin to see how versatile and eclectic the Chicago music scene truly is.

Legend McCall Interview

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Dropping the “Trust the Process Volume 1” album the same day Jay-Z released his 4:44 album was unplanned and a blessing,” conversed an enthusiastic Legend McCall as he sits with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of his latest opus.

The moment served ironic but, “special for me because Hov is my idol. I always aspired to be one of the greats like Jay-Z and Kanye West that make timeless music.” Crafting classic music serves the ultimate for the hip-hop artist. “I make music that speaks for young black males that gravitate towards rapping who never had guidance or [any form of] mentorship,” articulated the fervent emcee. He adds, “My music caters to those who do not have life’s roadmap laid out for them.”

Not only does the vigorous emcee make music for the misguided but music that represents home- Rockford, Illinois. “I developed tough skin while growing up in Rockford.” It is considered, “the tale of two cities where the city went from a community of love, peace, and joy to a [place of devastation and chaos]. It is a small city but statistically violent and impoverished.” He utters in disgust, “one can feel the terror that exists within Rockford.” Legend McCall shows concern as he pauses for a moment as if he were in deep thought. He continues, “There is no hope for people out there.” With this said, “I use my music as a vehicle for change for my city with anticipation of seeing better days.”

The city of Rockford is not only responsible for the development of his artistic endeavour Trust the Process Volume 1, but also a tweet from Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid inspired the title of the album. “It consists of spiritual themes and confident booster singles. I speak on subject matter ranging from basketball, hip-hop culture, relationships regarding my significant other, family, and close friends to politics.” For the lyricist, “It is all about feeling when it came to recording songs for the album. Each song has to describe what I was going through in that particular moment in my life.” What makes Legend McCall an interesting artist is his song selection process that makes the final cut. “I would repeatedly listen to songs after the recording session and sit on them for weeks. I go back to see if I still have that same feeling when I first recorded the songs. If so, they are definitely keepers.” He admits to being his, “own worst critic. However, I am truly satisfied with Trust the Process sonically.”

What serves important for an artist like Legend McCall is carving his own niche and not subject to the standards of the music industry. He lives by the artistic motto of, “being true to me. I do not seek approval from anyone when it comes to making music nor seek fame.” He wants to be able to express and, “relay my message trusting one person can get something out of my music.” He highlights, “I want to be remembered as an artist and person who took chances and reached the highest pinnacle life has to offer.”

Legend McCall continues his conversation with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of Trust the Process Volume 1 most noteworthy tracks.

Monochromatic Flows

I vibe out and get into a carefree zone when I hear that nostalgic ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop. This song has that nostalgic feeling. The production to this song gave me the platform to display my skill of rap; projecting my flow, cadence, and delivery at the highest level.

Voices

This is a favorite- soulful, uplifting, and personal to me. The record lets my uncle know, who has been incarcerated, that the family and I have been holding it down for him and are with him in spirit. Also, the song cites how I hear God talking and guiding me in this journey of life. Sixth Ave produced the track. He was very excited how the song formed [to perfection] once I sent him the finished product.

Madness on the 8th

This song almost did not make the cut. It is creative but felt it did not fit the theme of the album. However, I gave in after listening to it more than once. I wanted the song to capture that sentiment and moment when Donald Trump was elected in office. I expressed how I felt when that event took place. I knew the outcome of the presidential elections beforehand. I am not surprised about the things that go on in America. I know how the system works. I rather focus on something different than dwell on the foolery and madness [that came with the elections].

Mission Accomplished

This [particular single] helped me realized I recorded a great piece of art [Trust the Process]. I was honored that my friend Katrina Brown, a talented woman who grew up in the church, blessed the track with her soulful vocals. I was promoted in my place of employment at the time of recording this song. I felt everything was falling into place for me. It is a ‘momma I made it’ type record.

Shaun Livingston

Consider this my second favorite joint off Trust the Process Volume 1 and the very first song I recorded for the album in 2015 before I took a two-year hiatus in music to develop myself as a person and artist. I am a huge Shaun Livingston fan. Growing up, my homie used to brag about Livingston from Peoria, Illinois and how he used to bring the terror to Rockford high school basketball. To see him early in his career playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and getting an injury only to come back in great formation demonstrates his strong resilience. It is that Midwest story I can relate. His story describes who I am as a person. This record captures Shaun Livingston’s outstanding achievements.

Hector De La Rosa
(@Here_2_Edutain_)

Corey Gipson – Q&A Interview

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I recently checked out Corey Gipson‘s(@AintThatCoreyG) latest project and was thoroughly impressed!  It was only right to reach out to him for a Q&A session along with paving the road for him to feature on one of my new songs.  Nevertheless, check out his Q&A below!

Q) Where did the inspiration to record this entire project come from?

A) Most of the inspiration came from creating two really dope ep’s with California producers,Wrathmatics and h e a d b a n d, the year before. I wanted to keep the music train moving and learning how to produce my own joints seemed to be the only option to consistently have beats in rotation. Really just experimentation studying vinyl and sounds coming from different era’s shaped the whole record.

Q) Why did you title the album States?

A) With all my records I like to give a snapshot of what my life is like in that particular moment. States reflects my observations of my own ‘States of Being’ or ‘States of mind’ over the past few years. From start to finish it takes you on a trip from depression to liberation, from dark to light.

Q) What do you want the public to walk away with after listening to the album?

A) It would be dope if everyone who listened could walk away a little less judgemental of themselves and the world around them. Life is this cluster fuck of these cycles of good and bad all smashed together and most the time I feel like we stress everything, myself included.

Q) How is this album different from your previous discopraphy?

A) Besides being self produced It seperates itself from my past EP’s just in comfortability. Im in a good place mentaly and feel like ive really stepped into my own sound.

Q) Where are you currently at in your life and in your musical career?

A) Im just stepping out. I live in a small part of southern South Carolina where the hiphop scene is slim to none so relocation is the only movement now. Have had a taste of the stage so my main objective musically is to get to these shows and to the people, dive farther into production and keep pushing as an independent artist.

Q) What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

A) I was just chasing a that feeling of fullfilment. After the skateshop I worked for shut down in 2010 I really didnt know what my direction was. Id always freestyled with friends and experimented recording a few songs after high school. Creating is always the most exciting to me so I invested in equipment and education in sound engineering and havent been able to stop since.

Q) What is the ultimate goal for you as an artist with your music career?
A) In the end Im just hear to learn about myself and my place in this world. I dont do expectations but the goal now is to create a prosperous way of life doing what I love.

Q) How are you unique from other artists? What makes you different from other upcoming South Carolina artists?

A) Im not a rapper. Im a human first. Always. I think these days we have a ton of artist trying to fit into the boxes the music indurty is playing in at any given time and you wont find that here. My end game isnt to just be well known but to also understand myself. Thats not something you’re getting from most artist.

Q) How do you feel about the current state of music? Do you feel it drastically changed?

A) I dont listen to FM Radio. Personally I cant listen to 99% of whats going on in the mainstream. Overall I think music will be okay. At the end of the day reality is what we focus on so I try and really support the artist that make it out the noise of todays saturated market.

Q) What are some of the misconceptions the public has over artists?

A) Just the whole rapper Facade is lame. The notion that I as a rapper have to appeal to the materialistic standards of what society calls rich or wealthy is getting old. We gotta find wealth in other things.

Q) Advice to aspiring musicians and advice to the youth who are often misguided in this world?

A) Follow whats most exciting in every moment. Observe yourself and learn why you do, say and think the way you do. Be shamelessly you.

Paul’Michael – Q&A Interview

EPK

We got a chance to sit down and chop it up with Paul’Michael in his hometown of Indianapolis after opening for Ginuwine in our latest Q&A. He was able to shed some light on what has transpired since the last time we spoke to him.

Q) Where are you currently at in your life and in your musical career?

A) I’m finally where I’ve always wanted to be but this is only the beginning. People are starting to notice the talent and ambition. I’m looking forward to the future when I can turn my musical influence into a positive change in this world.

Q) What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

A) Well music saved my life when I was growing up. There were times when I felt that Music was my only friend and in times it taught me life lessons as well. Music helped raise me, it’s where I learned what love is and how to be a man. I listened to a lot of R&B but in High School I started listening to all music because it all has its own art form.

Q) What is the ultimate goal for you as an artist with your music career?

A) Of course winning Grammys and selling out MSG and being financially stable enough to carry my whole family are some goals. The ultimate goal is to make change in this world. I’m not sure what quite yet but I know I have a calling for this. It’s something I dream about often and I wish more people with voices would accomplish as well. This is a crazy world and it’s time for us to do what we were sent to do. I believe we all have a job here to make this world better but some people get too caught up in the material that they lose focus.

Q) How are you unique from other artists? What makes you different from other upcoming Indianapolis artists?

A) I would never want to take from any artist’s own craft. I never compare myself, I just love to make great music. My sound is full from the production, to the harmonies, to the vocal range. I feel that I can always get better and I definitely will. The next album will be better than the last is the mind state. The next performance will be more phenomenal so that the people want to come back again.

Q) How do you feel about the current state of music? Do you feel it drastically changed?

A) I think that music evolves in its own way. People hear something and visualize something and make it happen. Sometimes I feel like some artist don’t care about longevity in their career and are just focused on the now. What music is hot right now so I can make money is the thought process. But that is their path so I’m not mad at it.

Q) What are some of the misconceptions the public has over artists?

A) I think the misconception is that people think it’s easy and it’s just a hobby. If they saw the process, I don’t think most people could do what we do. It takes a certain mindset and drive to continue when the world is against you. They don’t know that we have millions of reasons to give up but something inside keeps us going. That’s not a hobby, that’s passion.

Q) Advice to aspiring musicians and advice to the youth who are often misguided in this world?

A) I’m gonna sound like everyone else when I say this but, keep going. Don’t let ANYONE tell you you can’t do what you believe. People know that they can’t do it so they would hate to see that you can. I have a secret for you though, those people message you later on in life when you’re making it apologizing. Just remember that if it were easy then it wouldn’t be success.

Q) What do you think needs to take place for the music industry to recognize Indianapolis as a city with so much talent?

A) You know, there’s a formula to this industry just like any other industry. Indiana has had talent for decades starting with Michael Jackson, Babyface, Axle Rose, etc. It’s not that they aren’t recognized it’s just that they went out to showcase their talents to the world. You have to know your business, your market, and know how far you can go in your current state. Indiana has a lot of talent and I plan to bring awareness to this but that talent is gonna have to work. The issues is that people want to be “safe”, but this is not a safe business. It’s a gamble on yourself and how much you believe in you.

Tooty – Q&A Interview

Tooty

On the eve of the release of Tooty‘s (@I_Am_Tooty) second project, Suicidal Thoughts, ILLwriteR got the chance to chop it up with the Chicago bred emcee about various topics including his latest EP. Check out the interview below and be on the look out for his project tomorrow 11/24 at 12pm CST.

Q) Where did the inspiration to record this entire album come from?

A) It was just time. It’s been a year and a half since I dropped my first mixtape (First Degree Murder) so I decided to get back in the studio and to give my fans and supporters some new music.

Q) Why did you title the album Suicidal Thoughts?

A) A lot of people don’t know this but, before I began the creative process for this project I was really depressed and was contemplating suicide. I wanted to kill myself. But, that would’ve been too easy. So, I did some soul searching, and have been reading a lot of books and realized that I had to get rid of the victim mentality that I had picked up along the way and use my circumstances as motivation. So, I decided to name the project Suicidal Thoughts because of the space I was in at the time.

Q) What are your expectations for the album once it is released to the public?

A) I don’t really have any specific expectations for the project outside of the fact that I hope to connect with my fans and supporters more on an intellectual level. I’ve grown a lot as a person and as an artist since the last time I released music so, I just want people to understand how passionate I am about my poetry.

Q) What do you want the public to walk away with after listening to the album?

A) This project is very introspective, so I expect people to walk away with a better understanding of who Tooty is and just how passionate I am about my craft. I also want people to take the messages from some of the songs and use it as motivation for whatever they may be pursuing in their lives.

Q) How is the album different from your previous work?

A) Suicidal Thoughts is really dark, much more personal, much more focused than the last project. Last time I found myself trying to please everybody and ended up making music that I got tired of really fast.

Q) My favorite songs on the project (in no particular order) are “All I Think About“, “Mile Before Perfect“, and the “Outro“. Can you expand on the song concepts and the behind the scenes recordings of each song?

A) I love sampling r&b and neo soul music, and using skits so on these particular records we sampled Aaliyah (All I Think About) and John Legend (Mile Before Perfect), and for the Outro we (me and my producer; Von Vuai) chopped up a Will Smith interview that we felt like was very important. In terms of the recording process, everything came together pretty fast, I was in the zone and me and my engineer have a really good relationship so my sessions are always really productive. And a lot of the concepts for this project are just about the journey (Underground Railroad, Runaway Slave, Mile Before Perfect). I use a lot of symbolism and expand upon it indirectly wherever I see fit throughout the music.

Q) Where are you currently at in your life and in your musical career?

A) I’m at a really weird stage in my life. On the outside looking in you’d think I’m suppose to be happy, I graduated from college, I have a really good job, but i’m not content with being average, this is miserable for me. But, as an artist I’ve just been in the studio working nonstop, building my catalog, networking, trying to learn as much as possible about the industry, as I build my brand and grow my fanbase.

Q) What is the ultimate goal for you as an artist with your music career?

A) I don’t really think there is a humble way to say I want to be one of the best greatest rappers of all time, but that’s what I’m aspiring to be. Personally, anytime that I’ve ever been going through something I’ve always been able to turn to music to get me through any situation. You know? A Monday, a train ride, a break up, road trips, death, depression. And I want to be the type of artist that people can turn to and depend on to come through for them whenever they’re going through something too.

Q) How are you unique from other artists? What makes you different from other upcoming Chicago artists?

A) I think my lyricism and storytelling ability makes me unique. And I don’t want to put any limitations on my artistry. I believe what makes me different from a lot other artists is the messages in my songs. I use a lot of double entendres and metaphors, and to be honest, I really feel as though the music I’m making is way ahead of its time.

Q) How do you feel about the current state of music? Do you feel it drastically changed?

A) I feel like music is in a transitioning stage right now and I don’t know if that a bad thing or a good thing but, I’m really happy to be a part of it, because I have creative control over the content I put out, and I feel like that’s enough to make a difference and help push the culture forward, regardless of whatever else is going on in music.

Q) What are some of the misconceptions the public has about artists?

A) That our business is their business. Websites like TMZ and Mediatakeout make people think it’s okay to pry into the private lives of musicians, actors/actresses and athletes and it’s not. That’s the only thing I’m not looking forward to when I blow up but, I guess it comes with the territory.

Q) Advice to aspiring musicians and advice to the youth who are often misguided in this world?

A) My advice to aspiring musicians would be to stay true to yourself and keep God first. Also, avoid negative energy and bad vibes , stay away from opinions, and most importantly never give up on your dreams. My advice to the youth is the same advice Tupac gave me “Keep Ya Head Up”. I pray for these kids every single day. I know It’s hard growing up in some of these neighborhoods, especially because there isn’t a lot of positive role models. These kids don’t have anybody to look up to, and it’s sad. But, I believe in our youth, I just want them to believe in themselves and stay away from situations that could potentially make them lose their life or their freedom. I’m 25 years old, and I ain’t survive 25 summers in Chicago by being a fool. Listen to your parents.

Q) What do you think needs to take place for the music industry to recognize Chicago as a city with so much talent?

A) I think the industry recognizes it but it’s hard because everybody is so divided in Chicago, it’s so many cliques, so much favoritism, and jealousy, and it’s hindering a lot of artists from taking their careers to the next level. We need to be more like Atlanta, every time I look up I see a new artist from down south emerging and the only difference between those artists and us is that they stick together and support one another.

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