When you speak about your relations with people, it’s clear that it’s important to you from the way you interact with people. You had people come out and support you and kick it with you from several different backgrounds.
The Colors of Benetton [laughs]!
[Laughs] Your fan base spans crazy. My question is: What’s your nationality?
My racial ambiguity really is a testament to how I’m a chameleon in a lot of different environments, so I try to keep that ambiguity from a marketing standpoint. But I will say this, though: I am mixed. My parents come from two totally different cultures, and I’ve traveled around the world studying cultures and music. I think that has a lot to do with why I have friends from all walks of life. I also find a lot of beauty in people, and it really doesn’t matter where they come from, how much material objects they have [or] how they were brought up. I, normally, try to see the good in everyone, so it’s just in my blood. Like, my dad comes from a very hot island [laughs], and my mom is straight northeast.
When did your love for music start?
Five years old. My mom recorded me singing James Brown into my Fisher Price recording machine. She’s like a classic soul Nazi; She made sure that I grew up to Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave… all her. Then my dad, he used to play a couple instruments, he’s an incredible dancer, so it’s in the blood. From a young age I was always dancing and singing, then when I got to my young teenage years, that’s when it really hit. Especially in Philly, I was really obsessed with the Okayplayer movement, and I was 14 or 15 sneaking into the shows and the clubs! I started doing open mics and spoken word. I was a really big hip-hop activist in my latter high school years, so I would get my one friend who played drums and another friend who beatboxed and we would just have cyphers for hours. Then I started putting on hip-hop political events at like 15 and 16 [laughs]. I had this one guy who was really like my hip-hop mentor. He showed me how to work turntable, I was a little backpacker, and just a little hip-hop nerd.
That was your addiction.
Hell yeah. My addiction! Then, I went to school in Boston, and I wanted to major in music activism [laughs], so I designed my own major. The title of it was like The Hip-Hop Activism Quest; that was the title of my major at 17! I started deejaying on the radio.This was at Emerson in Boston. For three years, I deejayed underground hip-hop and then I traveled the world, grew up a little bit and made my major a little more professional. It became music production and social marketing. Then, my final year that I deejayed, I started an R&B and Soul show called “The Secret Spot,” and that show won a bunch of awards. That was a big deal.
I’m sure it was. You’ve done so much and been to many places. What place has influenced you the most or feels the most apart of you?
New York. I can’t remember the very first time I had been to New York, but it was always about New York. I love Philly, but I was always trying to be in the center of the city. I like to find new things all the time, constantly stimulated, and New York is just it. I thought I would move to New York after high school, but I went to Emerson. Even after Boston, I already knew it would be New York.
Now, what came first? Rapping or deejaying?
Rapping, actually. Hands down.
So your love for music, sparked your love for rhyming and it developed into deejaying, but what made you take the professional DJ avenue first?
It kind of took me because I started deejaying first before I told anyone that I made music. No one knew. At the time, I was managing a small production company and a small record label. That’s where I met my managers, so they knew about my work ethic. They didn’t even know I made music, and then I had a revelation. I was like, all the effort I put into these two companies, what if I put it into myself. So in late 2008, I just made the decision to go ham, to go all the way in. I had already been known as a DJ, then the rapping started. Really it was Ninjasonik, who are like my brothers, who have been supporting me since the jump. They didn’t need me to be cosigned by anyone or anything.
And in late 2008 is when you dropped “That’s Not It?”
Well that’s when it started to filter out, but when we really dropped it with the video directed by Vashtie and did the Married To The Mob collab t-shirt, that was September of 2010.
Now, what’s the message in your message in your music?
I’m a big, big fan of love. I’ve always been fascinated and very affected by love, so a lot of my songs are about love.
Well “That’s Not It” is really sassy!
[Laughs] I think at one point, I was just laughing at the radio. They had the same message and same formula of how a guy should get a girl. And to the rest of the world, it’s so ridiculous. It’s hilarious, and I’m not even a sarcastic person until I rap. I’m really gullible and I think being sarcastic is mean [laughs]. But it’s just me making a really sarcastic song, me making fun of it. It’s like, yo, there are ladies out here who are truly not impressed by this bullshit. Get outta here!