Describe your latest mixtape Lincoln Way Nights? What do you want people to take away from this offering? How have you grown since Autobiography?
Autobiography was just that, it was something that I wanted to give to fans and to people who were becoming new fans of who I was and I wanted them to get to know who I was as a man. It wasn’t meant to be super lyrical or super great. It was just to be insightful and to actually give an introduction to who I was. I think Lincoln Way Nights progress was I gave a lot more of myself in this product. I took people home with me to Massillon, Ohio; I gave you a sound that I created that defines and represents Massillon Ohio that Midwest car culture sound. That’s something that is represented in the music and something that’s represented in my life. I’m a big fan of where I’m from but I’m also a big fan of muscle cars that whole thing growing up I had friends and family who spent a lot of time working on muscle cars and under the hood.
I feel like you definitely meshed all coasts’ influences but turned out a sound unique to your style.
That’s what I wanted to do too because I grew up with that [90’s hip-hop] too; I grew up with everything but I was heavily influenced by East Coast lyricism, even the lyricism that comes from guys like Scarface, Outkast, and Ice Cube. Those guys were very lyrical and they painted pictures. That’s what I try to do in music; I wanted to build and create my own sound which I did with Intelligent Trunk Music to kind of give you that sound of Massillon, Ohio. What I felt represented it or what I felt was that sound. It’s like a east-west-north-south mesh. Like you said coming from the Midwest that’s what you grown up listening to [everything]. I still was able to do that while keeping myself and keeping my lyrical content and concepts and just being me as an artist all around.
Speak on your relationship with Dame Dash and how that came about.
Dame is a good friend and also someone who had given me great advice going through the industry or just building my brand and myself as an artist. I met him though the Creative Control. My friend took me over there and was like 'I got these guys that shoot great videos and I think you guys will fit well because what you do musically is exactly what they do through their visuals.' I met them and played them the song. Right away they were like we got to shoot a video! We shot a video right there on the spot and it took us like 35-45 minutes; they edited it and we put it out the next day! People really took to it and showed love. Dame was like 'yo, this space DD172 is welcome to you whenever you want. I really like what you’re doing. I love what you represent in your music. I love your style and how you carry yourself. ' He just took a genuine liking to what I was doing. It’s just been a friendship from there.
What is your take on established artists turning back to the mixtape circuit and putting out “prequels” and concept albums for free?
Mixtapes set up albums, mixtapes set up tours. Mixtapes are like an album and that’s why I spend time and I create each mixtape like an album. That’s why I treated Lincoln Way Nights like it was an album. That’s why people are giving it great reviews and saying it’s a classic. It’s only like a month and a half old! So it’s still brand new. For me to put out new music or even to be in the studio working on new music is kind of crazy when it hasn’t even gotten the exposure or recognition that I believe that it can get. It still has great legs; people don’t give their music time to breathe or give it legs so they chop it short and that takes away from the quality of the music.
You mentioned Mos Def as being someone who inspired you—he is an example of someone who has a can garner consistent crowds regardless if he has a single or album out. Are there blueprints for you to follow when it comes to live shows?
Yeah, I definitely look at those type of artists like Mos Def, Kings of Leon, and even Bruce Springsteen. He’s an artist who has great showmanship and great stage presence and put’s on great shows and that’s what I try to do. I can guarantee anyone who doesn’t know me or who may be on a fence about being a fan of my music, when they see me live, they will leave being a fan! I take great pride in that and I put on a great show; I work hard, I know what it means to touch those people when they’re in the same room as you. That’s just being a public speaker period; like being the President of the United States or a professor with words about whatever works and connects with whatever gets people relieved and understand what you’re trying to come across with. It’s much easier that way to come across visually than just to be heard on a cd or just seen on a video.
What are your plans the rest of this year?
The project Lincoln Way Nights that Rashaad and I did together is still fresh and new; we just want to ride that till the wheels fall off literally [laughs] and at the same time me and Rashaad will be working on new music; we got some situations that we’re working out, a lot of shows coming up and just setting up tours like I said doing more visuals, more press and promoting the project. That’s the main focus for the next couple of months or the next year or so. There’s also always going to be more new music coming. Basically continuing to build the brand, getting Lincoln Way Nights & Intelligent Trunk Musik to as many eyes and ears possible and keep on growing and growing as a brand.