Hip Hop music though often plagued by its egotistical, testosterone driven flaws has still always been somewhat of a refuge for the out cast. From Biz Markie to Eminem, The Beastie Boys to Big Pun Hip Hop embraces individuality, and gives artist a platform to express and share their unique experience. Today I introduce to you a young rapper from Wisconsin who as a kid may have been as much of an Outkast as Andre and Big Boi. His name is Smokes, and he raps as if you already knew. At 1st listen its easy to try and categorize the rapper who enjoys to party and have a good time, but when his story further unfolds Im learning there may be more to it than the singles.
When did you start rapping?
I started writing in the 7th grade. I started recording freshman year of high school, but didn’t get serious about pursuing it as a career until 2006/07 when I was released out of County Jail and House arrest on several state drug charges. After catching the case I re-evaluated my life and I decided to put all my energy into my music.
Jail bars, or writing bars, I think you made a bright decision. Who are you influenced by musically?
Tupac, Outkast and Bone Thugs n Harmony are a major influence. Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Toni Braxton. I grew up in a house full of classic groups such as Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers and Pink Floyd. I’ve also been a fan of the electro/trance music as far back as I can remember. All these artist, groups and genres mixed with my life’s journey all equate to the artist I am now. That is why making music is limitless. I am a melting pot of a vast collection of influences.
Your list of influences is definitely… Vast. If I visit Wisconsin where can I find quality Hip Hop?
All over, you would be surprised at how much talent Wisconsin has. From Milwaukee to Madison to the smaller towns of Green Bay and Beloit Wisconsin is full of talent.
Of all the things in the world to do why create music?
Because I love it
Excellent answer. No need to complicate things. How important is it for you to represent your nationality, and incorporate your culture in your music?
I was adopted so I never new my full heritage or where I came from. I was the Asian kid that had white parents and went to the hood school. I wasn’t Asian enough for the Asian kids, black enough for the black kids or white enough for the white kids. I want to inspire the culture to be proud of being Asian and not focus on weather ones Chinese or Korean. There is a lot of internal beef between different Asian Cultures, and what I am trying to express is that until we are accepted as a whole by the rest of the world there is no reason for us to be beefing at one another.
Your right about that. We have to end the silliness people! Speaking of silliness, The Lyrics/subject matter in Hip Hop has been dumbed down and compromised over time. What are your thoughts on the lyrics/subject matter in contemporary Hip Hop?
Greats like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, became superstars because they were experts at touching peoples emotions. They made you feel emotions either happy or sad and they touched on topics for the average person could relate too. They didn’t do this by over complex lyrics they did this by making music from the soul and whatever emotion that they were going threw at that time was expressed in the form of the lyrics on the record. As you put your heart and soul into what your creating and get your feeling across in the lyrics that you are trying to express it doesn’t matter how complexed or dumbed down the lyrics are.
Difference between simplicity and stupidity, but I agree simplicity is often the magic in music. What is your overall goal?
My goal is to make music accepted across the world and tour the world playing that music.
What are you working on now to achieve that goal?
My newest project “Ecstasy at the After Party” which we will be releasing into the start of this coming school year. It is more of an electro pop sound. A lot of big records, my current single ” I Luv Da Party” peaked at #3 on the College Radio Charts.