Interview: Phil Adé Talks New Mixtape ‘R.O.S.E.’ Inspiration From Tupac
At the beginning of each new day, Phil Adé chooses to celebrate life by virtually toasting with his followers on Twitter.
Whether or not he actually raises his glass is unknown but the 25-year-old up and coming rapper surely has plenty of reasons to rejoice.
Navigating through the DMV, Adé has positioned himself at the forefront of the hip-hop movement taking place in the area. Following a brief hiatus, Adé has returned with his sixth mixtape, titled R.O.S.E. (Result of Societies Evil)—a sincere body of work he regards as his most mature offering to date.
Adé nods at drawing inspiration for the title from Tupac Shakur’s notable poem, “A Rose That Grew From Concrete.”
“I feel like there’s a message that needs to be heard, with all the stuff that’s going on with kids today,” he says. “I just feel like people need to have some conviction, if you do something you need to know why you’re doing it and you need to be able to explain where it comes from…With this project I kinda want after everyone listens to the record, to feel like, where do I stand? Who do I choose to be as a person? What do I want to stand for?”
With R&B sensation Raheem DeVaughn backing his vision, Adé is on a relentless quest to have his voice heard by the masses and his music recognized appropriately. VIBE caught up with the Silver Spring, MD upstart to find out exactly what to expect from R.O.S.E. and how his journey has been shaped by the area that raised him.
VIBE: Your last project was #PhilAdeFriday2 and you released that in late 2011. Why was there such a long period of time between these mixtapes?
Adé: I felt like I had to take some time really to just get ahead of myself and also work on my craft as an artist. I wasn’t there yet. I had records that we could’ve put out. As a team, we felt it wasn’t there yet. The potential of what the shit could be wasn’t there, so we definitely didn’t rush it. Now, I’m in the right place, I have a better understanding of how to make the records that I want to make. From this point on it’s not going to stop. I’m already working on my next project and we about to keep it moving this year, 2013.
How was it touring with Rockie Fresh and Kris Kassanova on the Electric Highway tour?
It was cool, Kris was just there for one day but me and Rocky are homies. I’ve known him since like high school, before he even laid a record. It was just like I was traveling with a friend. It was fun. It was my first nationwide tour, so I got to see all parts of the country. It was real cool because I got to really see all the fans that I have in different parts of the country, like in places that I wouldn’t even expect there would be Phil Adé fans. It was cool to see that, people that were excited to see me in like Pomona, CA, all these random places. So it was cool. I can’t wait to get back out there.
What can fans expect with the upcoming mixtape, R.O.S.E.?
This project, I’m in a different zone as an artist. With the music I’m making now, I don’t want to say it’s totally different but I have a lot bigger records. I’m excited about the message that I put behind Result Of Societies Evil. The message is basically all the stuff we’re exposed to growing up. When we’re born, we’re born completely innocent. You don’t see murder; you don’t see any of this stuff. But as we grow older you watch TV you see your friends smoking, drinking, you see how magazines and stuff like that just affect girls, all that stuff and how it plays a factor in people’s lives. I feel like in this day and age a lot of kids don’t have any conviction. After everyone listens to the record, I want people to feel like, where do I stand? Who do I choose to be as a person? What do I want to stand for? I feel like a lot of young’uns like myself and younger are just out here and don’t even really care. This project, I’m excited because there’s a story in it. I really get in deeper with my personal life and the lives of those around me.
Bun B is featured on “2 A.M.” and you said most of the production is from Sunny Norway but who else did you work with on this project?
Sixx, he’s actually in a production group called the official. Teddy Rockspin, he did a couple records. Backpack Matt, he did the Xscape record. Bun B, Like from Pac Div, Rockie Fresh, Phil Da Phuture, Raheem DeVaughn. My crew Royal Fam, I have a couple of artists—Dboy, Ice the Villian. You’ll hear more from them but you get a little taste in the project.
Result Of Societies Evil—why that name specifically?
It was something that just kinda came to me, I remember I was riding with Dre [‘the mayor’ Hopsin] we were on 295, this was like last fall. I was just lost in my head and thought that would be a dope concept, the acronym R.O.S.E. You know that poem that Tupac wrote? “A Rose That Grew From Concrete,” that’s kind of where the inspiration was drawn from. There’s a message that needs to be heard, with all the stuff that’s going on with kids today. I just feel like people need to have some conviction, if you do something you need to know why you’re doing it and you need to be able to explain where it comes from.
Can you explain Royal Fam?
It’s a play on my name. Adé in Nigeria means crown, royalty. I wanted to make something that my fans can be a part of and my friends can get involved with. It’s something I can take and really help create some positivity for my friends and just people all over to be a part of. What I try to promote with it is you’re a ruler of your destiny or whatever it is you want to do, you’re the king of your life and you decide what you want to do. So we have the Kings and the Queens and that sort of thing. That’s where that comes from, it’s just something my fans can be a part of, my friends can be a part of. We all rep and have fun.
What’s it like to have Raheem DeVaughn on your side?
It’s definitely been a help because he’s in the business, he knows the ins and outs about being an artist. It’s different because he’s an R&B artist, I do hip-hop, which is a completely different fan base, lane and all that. He’s definitely been a help with getting me in the mindset of being an artist, having a business mind. Dre also, they always tell me rap is one thing but have a business mind, have different goals for yourself. Both of them together have really been like father figures for me, the last few years. I haven’t spoken to my own father in a minute. When I got with them I was still in that process of making that transition from just a kid being in school to becoming a man. They really been like big brothers/father figures for real.
How would you say being from the DMV area influences your style?
Just going out there, you’d be able to see how much culture is out there. I would definitely say my appreciation for live music comes from being out there, going to go-go’s, we also real big on fashion out there. I feel like Diddy got his swag from being in D.C. when he was at Howard. They real big on Versace, Moschino and all of that. There’s so much culture out there, dressing is a big thing out there. I got my sense of style from being in the area. Definitely, the music and the fashion definitely from there.
Do you think it’s more difficult to come out of a place like Maryland that doesn’t have a huge hip-hop history?
Yeah, definitely because the industry is not there. There’s not a lot of people that do what I do out there, so you kinda have to move in and out of the area. You have to come up here [N.Y.] sometimes and move around. Branch out, there’s no industry in Maryland it’s not like Atlanta or L.A. where the labels are right there. It’s been difficult but at the same time, it’s been fun. It’s a learning process, its not hard if you know what you’re doing. Of course, starting up and trying to figure your way, it can be difficult at times.
Talk about the talent that’s coming out of the DMV area?
D.C., Maryland area, there’s so much talent out there it’s ridiculous. It’s almost not fair how much talent is out there that goes unseen and has gone unseen and will probably never be heard. I’m just happy and proud I could be a part of that ensuing spark of that movement out there. When I first got started, real talk it was just Wale, Tabbi, Raheem. That area has always been big for R&B: Ginuwine, Dru Hill, all of those cats are from there. But as far as hip-hop with the youth out there, go-go is the music that everyone listens to. Wale was like the first nigga that made it cool to be a rapper and do hip-hop music. Now you got Fat Trel, you got Black Cobain, you got Shy Glizzy, it’s just dope to see it slowly becoming a movement. People are really going to have to come to D.C. to find talent. It’s slowly getting there. —Christopher Harris