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Courtesy of Emilio Rojas

Embracing The New: Emilio Rojas Reintroduces Himself To Music With 'Life Got In The Way'

Emilio Rojas chops it up with VIBE to discuss ‘Life Got In The Way’ (out Nov. 2), his re-introduction to music, the difficulties of being an independent artist and the current surge of Latino music over global airways.

Emilio Rojas is back on his grind. After taking a four-year hiatus from music, the Venezuelan-American rapper is ready to reintroduce himself to the rap game, sans bad vibes and negative energy. Abandoning New York after recording the entirety of what has become his upcoming album, the Rochester native set out for Los Angeles to reflect on the rocky path his career was beginning to take.

Initially driven by bad management and a lack of synergy, Rojas was able to strike a chord of creativity in La La Land—despite discovering a general distaste for In-N-Out and the facade of North Hollywood clout. Using the time to clear his mind, realign his vision and create new content, Rojas is itching for new and existing fans to listen to his long-awaited project, Life Got In The Way.

Circling back to NYC to sit down with VIBE and discuss the making of his new album (out Nov. 2), his re-introduction to music, the difficulties of being an independent artist and the current surge of Latino music over global airways, Rojas is in his element. Comfortably kickin’ it in the building’s artist lounge, the 34-year-old rapper is confident in who he is and what he’s become. Both laid back and extremely attentive, Emilio Rojas speaks with conviction and new sense of clarity–music is his outlet. As someone who has lived his life walking the line between his Latino heritage and white background, Rojas uses rap to beat the system. A proverbial martyr for those who have been hushed, Emilio Rojas needs the world to know that the vexed question of whether or not it’s cool to be cultured no longer applies.

“Even with this resurgence of Latin culture, my voice is still unique because I talk about the assimilation,” he says. “Nobody is speaking for that.”


VIBE: You’ve uprooted from your New York Home to L.A. Why did you move out?
Emilio Rojas: Because I felt like there was a lot of like weird energy I just needed to change. I'm a big energy person. There's no stones in my pockets, no crystals, but that's where I draw the line. Up until then, it's energy all day.

I feel like L.A. has super chill vibes, though.
Kinda. I feel like it's fake. I feel like every interaction you have, for the most part in L.A. is evaluating if you're of some utility to them. So it’s like, “what kind of following do you have?” Then you're thinking, alright well how many followers do I need to have to be your friend.

That shouldn't matter.
But that's the corny sh*t. That's the type of sh*t they're on so that's why I don't f**k with L.A. I mean, I f**k with L.A, but it's not the people from L.A., don't get it twisted, it's like the transplants. It's like somebody from Pennsyltucky come and like he was like the biggest person in Iowa and then comes and like moves to North Hollywood and like thinks he has to be a certain way.


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LIFE GOT IN THE WAY TOMORROW AT MIDNIGHT‼️‼️‼️I’m SOOOOOO Hype!!!!! Can’t wait for y’all to hear this!!!!

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Do you record in L.A.?
Yeah. I like recording there, the creative culture out there is amazing. There's so many different people doing so many cool things, like everybody wants to create content, right? Content is the word of the day, but everybody's into it, people are very collaborative, the energy is usually good so like I love that.

Let’s talk about your project, Life Got In The Way. It's definitely been a long time coming.
Thanks, we've been working.

Is this music you've been sitting on for a while?
Yeah. I don't wanna call it my album, it's a project that I have that I wanna give to people, you know what I mean? I feel like it's important to distinguish.

I mean, it's the first time since your L.I.F.E. EP in 2015, right?

Would you say it's showing a lot of growth or chronicling your experiences since then?
Oh yeah, there's a lot of growth ‘cause I needed to explain some sh*t to people. I felt like I had to make certain records just to kinda button up the story really nicely. I feel like back then there were two Emilios. For one, you had this Emilio who was being pressured to create what they were calling “competitive and urgent records.” I had a lot of external pressure from people like, "yo we need a record for mix show," "we need a record for radio" and sh*t. Really I'm an artist who likes to say sh*t, so when you put me in this situation where you're pressuring me to create some sh*t, I'm way out of my comfort zone. You really just have to let me stumble on a record. I feel like anyone who just goes out deliberately to do anything is gonna sound contrived. I feel like there was that side and then the side that people love me for, which is like when I'm saying sh*t to really be my authentic self. So to present that to my audience and to really grow the way I wanted to grow, I felt like I had to f**king throw that mix-show-pressure Emilio out and just be regular Emilio, talk about what I wanna talk about and not let anybody else influence my creative process. I don't need yes men around me, I'm very open to constructive criticism, but I want people who understand the vision and there was a lack of that. That's why I moved to L.A., that's what this project is, and that’s what I wanna do.

I noticed that you're always sharpening your pencil and your craft through freestyles of popular songs. Is that what you were doing throughout your hiatus?
I was just bored and I was like "we're about to start this rollout and there's always pressure,” so I'm kind of looking at this like a re-emergence, like I'm starting again. What I wanted to do was re-engage fans that have been there for a minute and just remind them like "alright I know I've been quiet for like a good f**king minute, but like I'm still dead nice."

Oh so it’s like your reintroduction to music.
Yeah, I'm looking at it like a promo single—this whole project.

If you had to re-introduce yourself in a short a few sentences, what would you say?
I'm Emilio Rojas and I'm at war with love and at odds with the system. I'm always in conflict. Like it's perpetually conflict, whether it's in my personal life, my relationships, my own identity, or what's going on in the world.

"There are some very influential people who at multiple different times in my career told me to either A, stop going by my real name and use my 'passable whiteness' or B, just tone down the Latin sh*t as a whole." —Emilio Rojas

You've been dropping a lot of music videos to lead this new release. What are you most excited for fans to hear?
I'm most excited for fans to hear "New To New York" off this project. I'm from Rochester and I moved to New York City like "once I get there I'm gon' get it" and that's what the record is about. It's about leaving where you're comfortable and where you're from and going somewhere else and like thinking that it's gonna change your life and obviously it but the hope is that it's for the better. It's about like having lofty goals and then the reality. There's like a dope switch and we got a crazy video for it. I'm excited about it.

As far as your goals, where do you aspire to be?
I don't have an end-goal. I wake up in the morning, I talk to my mom, I go to the gym, I go to the studio. Life is good, you know? I want to make records that will last longer than like a blog post and I know everything is so quick right now but I wanna make things that, you know, the people that relate to them can keep going back to.

I feel like the themes in your music can definitely contribute to longevity.
You hear sh*t that's fun and you love it forever, too, and I'm not saying I don't want to make fun music, but I also feel like my fans get mad at me when I talk about things that aren't super serious. Like damn, y'all want me to be f**king miserable? [Laughs]


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Out here in new yorkkkkk let’s gooooo #lifegotintheway Nov. 2

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It seems like you release a lot of your emotions in your music, do you have any other outlets for that, or would you say you leave it all in the music?
That's an interesting question. I mean music has always been cathartic. It's funny because I've been criticized for that in relationships. My girl at the time told me that I didn't talk—and I don't. I'm a very pensive and observant person, I'd much rather look at a room than participate in it and I think a lot of times it comes across as arrogant or aloof, but it's really just that I have a general distrust for most situations just because of my experience. I think my music is like a moment where I allow myself to be vulnerable. I'm glad I have it because I don't know what else I do to let things out.

Your "Crown Of Thorns" video has a huge boxing theme. Do you box?
I used to try, but I don't have that killer instinct. I love boxing though, I love boxing.

Your album is executively produced by !llmind, that's huge!
That's my boy since he rapped!

For real? I was gonna say how did that happen? I know he's worked with like Drake, J. Cole and the list goes on.
I worked with him first.

No, no, no. [Laughs] !llmind is my guy. I've known him for so long, we have such a history together. He's a genuine person, he's super talented, and we've been talking about doing this record for a long time. Actually, it's funny cause right before Joell [Ortiz] and him did the "Human" record, we started working on this. I finished it, I put it away and then I went to L.A. and I just kept working on music, but I was like "no, I gotta put this sh*t out, ‘cause it's dope."

I was watching a video where you guys were talking about the music and it seemed like you guys were really good at collaborating.
Yeah, he has such a good energy. I don't like to force sh*t. A lot of times people will ask you like "yo, what's your dream collab" and I'm like, "I don't give a f**k, I'm not chasing anybody." If it makes sense then that's what's supposed to happen. I just feel like there's so much pressure ‘cause the industry is all about relationships. It's like "oh, you're not cool unless you f**k with so and so" but I'm not trying to play that game, I just wanna make dope sh*t.

People try to force features with artists that are hot and you can hear it in the tracks, but you have your boys on your album, right?
Yeah. Even if my boys had no fans, if you're dope and we make a dope record, I’ma put that sh*t out. Everybody started with nothing, so it's foolish—I think it's short-sided to only deal with people who are hot for the moment.

It's called clout chasing.
It's how you become a trash person.

The credentials for "Crown Of Thorns" say you shot, directed and edited the video. Are you into videography?
We lost the footage for the original video.

I don't f**king know.

I mean it was over a year ago.
Yeah so we lost it and I was like "f**k, we need a video for this," ‘cause it was like the first video. I didn't know I put that in the credits, I should delete that, I don't want people to know that.

Why? It's dope that you're involved in all parts of the creative process.
Because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. [Laughs] I YouTube tutorialed everything. But yeah it's fun, it was actually dope cause now when he's shooting a video I could be like "nah man, let's do flash cut here" ‘cause I went to YouTube and now I know all these terms.

You can flex a little.
[Laughs] I'm an expert now.

"I want to make records that will last longer than like a blog post." —Emilio Rojas

Even with your music video for "The Cost" you were posting about how you were really feeling the Quentin Tarantino vibes of it, so I was really thinking that you were out here putting a lot of thought into your music videos.
I do but as an independent artist, you always wanna do these crazy f**king videos, right? But crazy f**king videos cost a crazy f**king amount of money. I really would like to do some crazy Quentin Tarantino sh*t, but instead we do like cool Quentin Tarantino sh*t, but I'm still proud cause it's like yo we did this on our own! We shoestring budgeted this sh*t and it still looks fly.

I thought it looked good.
Yeah I'm happy with it, I love it. You can make a lot of things happen just off of good old-fashioned can-do-it-ness—I made up that word but you can just make sh*t happen if you work and pull resources. I'm blessed to have fans that are supportive and friends that are supportive and everybody is willing to lend a hand and help me facilitate things, which makes a $2,000 look like $5,000.

Aside from "New To New York" do you have any other videos coming out?
We shot this video for a record called "20 Bands" which is dope, it's like a tattoo record. It's a little more ratchet—a lot of rap hands. I'm sitting on maybe 80 records besides this project so what I'm gonna do once we finish rolling this record out with !llmind is I'm gonna start dropping weekly and bi-weekly content. Probably a video a month.

You’re most excited for fans to hear "New To New York" but what record was most important to you?
"The Cost." I love that record because I was so beautifully passive aggressive in the moments that I created it. I was dating this amazing, beautiful, crazy girl from Queens and we lived together and she was getting jealous because I was about to go on tour. You know, when you're jealous and your boyfriend is an artist who's about to go on tour, the first thing you think of is "you're gonna be f**king bi**hes on tour!" So, you know, she's throwing plates, she's going to la bruja and sh*t and getting spells cast and I'm walking in the apartment and there's bowls of water in the corner and sh*t. We ended up breaking up right before I left for tour and this is two days before and she's in the room packing her sh*t and !llmind sent me this beat. At first I just put it on and just started writing just so she could hear me. I had no intention of putting the record out or anything, but then the sh*t turned out really dope. My boy Gene [Nobel] did the hook and I really like the record, it's like one of my favorite records. I just think it's so relatable, especially if you've ever been in a relationship that you just don't wanna let go of or just comes at a price, you know? For me to be in that relationship I would have had to sacrifice so much and that's why it's called the cost.

There's been a huge Latino dent in the charts lately. How do you feel about that?
We went through the fire. We were all told that it wasn't cool, we were told to tone it down. I literally just had this conversation, so I'm glad I'm getting asked it because people need to be held accountable and I wish I was brave enough and big enough to name drop, but I'm not. There are some very key players and some very influential people who at multiple different times in my career told me to either A, stop going by my real name and use my "passable whiteness" or B, just tone down the Latin sh*t as a whole. I've had major DJs at major radio stations tell me that they don't like to use my name on air because they feel like they're introducing a salsa artist and these are Latinos who are telling me this and they DJ in a city whose largest listening demographic is Hispanic. I've had major tastemakers, bloggers and influencers tell me to stop using Latin references—and I'm not even super OD with that sh*t—because they don't relate... meanwhile they're from f**king Nicaragua or some sh*t. Now those same people are literally scrambling to hop on the wave.

I've had those same people wonder, "why haven't you ever used a Latin angle?" Let me answer in Spanish: ¿qué? Like, what? What do you mean a Latin angle, like y'all sh*t on us for years? I had managers tell me! Like I got a song on one of the records where I'm like, "Management said can it with that Hispanic sh*t/ But mira mira motherf**ker" like that's what I am, you know? I don't ever claim to be something I'm not. My father is an immigrant from Venezuela, my mother is from New York, I grew up walking the line and that's all I ever talk about, I never claim one side more than the other and I think that's a voice that's just been muted, even now. Even with this resurgence of Latin culture, my voice is still unique because I talk about the assimilation. Like I'm a first generation child of an immigrant who's trying to identify with the Latin side as well as the white side and nobody is speaking for that.

I hear you.
How many kids are like us and who's speaking for us? Even now, there's still nobody. It's like this is a conversation that is echoed. This sh*t haunts me! I have this conversation all the time and there's definitely a void and there's a whole group of people just wanting to be addressed. We're a huge f**king group of people who are routinely marginalized and I wanna change that, even if I'm not the only voice—I hope I'm not the only voice. It's amazing to see Cardi and Bad Bunny and Ozuna and J. Balvin and all these people blowing up because we have such a rich culture and it's great the world gets to experience it but we went through it.

Can we expect any bilingual songs on Life Got In The Way?
No, because this is a little bit older. There might be some references, but when I was working on this record I was still very much in "tone it down" mode because I foolishly bucked to external pressures when it came to that. I like to talk about my experiences, but I was overthinking alienating a whole other audience. I do have a record that talks about it, though. It's called "Tainted" and it's already out, but it's dope. It talks about the duality, the struggle, how you're not enough for either side, and how both sides ostracize you because of that.

READ MORE: Premiere: Emilio Rojas, Jarren Benton & Rexx Life Raj Team Up For “Used To”

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Interview: Suave House Founder Tony Draper Links With Celebs Like 2 Chainz, G Herbo and Nick Cannon To Feed Their Cities

The harrowing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately disrupted Black communities across the United States with cities like Chicago being among the hardest hit. Throughout the year, artists from the city have stepped up and held socially distanced food drives and PPE donations across the city’s South and West sides. With his deep ties to Chicago since the early 90s, Suave House Records founder/entrepreneur Tony Draper, alongside NBA veteran Ricky Davis, made the Chi’ their next stop as part of the nationwide Feed Your City Challenge this past October 17th at the Pullman Park Community Center.

The chilly, yet bright and sunny Saturday saw hundreds of people drive through the parking lot of the complex, receiving groceries from the many volunteers, gathered from across the city. Masked up with PPE in the trenches with the civilians were local natives and celebrity supporters like Chitown’s Grammy winning producer/music executive No ID, rap star G-Herbo, new rapper Queen Key, NBA star Jabari Parker to media/music entertainer Nick Cannon. Draper and Davis were handing off items and loading boxes of farm-fresh produce and meats in the trunk of cars, and offloading the 95,000 pounds of food to feed 7,000 residents. While they were not in attendance, Common with Jhene Aiko and Social Justice Collective donated funds for the free groceries.

“You can’t lead the people until you feed the people. We’re out here in the community in a real way. People always talk about what’s going on in Chicago and these are the things going on in Chicago. Positive things for the community during a time like this. People coming together and it’s a wonderful event,” said Cannon.

For Draper, bringing the Feed Your City Challenge to Chicago and being able to pull it off successfully was crucial because October 17th, marks the 24th anniversary of the death of one of Chi’s most influential DJs, Rapmaster Pinkhouse, who passed away in 1996. “It feels like myself and my partner [Ricky] Davis coming to Chicago and partnering with Common, No ID, Jhene Aiko, Nick Cannon, G-Herbo, Jay Allen, [local FM radio] Power 92 and Pat Edwards was a sign from God that it’s meant to happen on this day. Even though Pinkhouse is gone, he’s still influencing the south side of Chicago and he’s still sending us blessings. We had to pull it off, we had to,” Draper said with conviction. 

Meanwhile, Power 92.3’s DJ Pharris, DJ Nehpets, DJ Commando, DJ Amaris and Hot Rod were on the 1s and 2s while Parker, Hot Rod, G-Herbo, and community activists Joey G and Nico Naismith played basketball with the kids. A nonprofit Hoop Bus was set up with a small hoop with Black Lives Matter symbols and the names of victims who were killed by police officers. 

G-Herbo, who has been volunteering his time to the kids of Chicago throughout 2020 says that events like this are important to build and strengthen Black unity across the city. “It’s beyond just being able to feed and provide, it’s allowing people to feel unity in the city. This is the city coming together and a lot of important and powerful people coming from the city, all walks of life coming together for a positive reason and that’s what it’s all about.” When asked if this event defied the stigma of Chicagoans not being unified, Herbo exclaimed, “Absolutely! We unified right now and it’s only gon’ get better, so we’re just trying to lead by example and make this normal. This is not just an event, this gotta be the normal for guys like myself and for the city.”

And the people who showed up to receive their free groceries were more than appreciative. Takara, a mother from the Southside of Chicago says that while she found out about the food drive at the last minute,“It’s a lot of food out here, a lot of good people out here and it’s something that we need. Events like this are very necessary and it’s filling the need for families who can’t feed their children during these times. I wish I could have volunteered and done something more, but we need this.”

In a one-on-one with VIBE, the legendary Tony Draper talks about his connections to Chicago, the importance and impact of the Feed Your City Challenge, the role celebrities play in activism, and more. 

VIBE: Earlier you shared that Oct. 17th was also the day that Rapmaster Pinkhouse passed away. For the younger readers who might not know who Rapmaster Pinkhouse is, could you share who he was and why he was so important to Chicago?

Draper: For young people that don't understand how music was heard back then, there was no social media [in the early 90s], there was no Instagram, so you had to get your record to the hottest person in the city. That person had to make a decision about whether it was good or not. And if that person touched your record in Chicago, that person would spread, it was automatic. That’s what happened to a young Tony Draper with 8Ball & MJG’s first albums. He put his hands around it and he exposed it to the Chicago market. Every time I think about Chicago, I always think about Pinkhouse. Pinkhouse was the main reason why I even came to Chicago.

Talk about that. What was Chicago like for you when you first came here?

Coming to Chicago was a very interesting moment for me because when I came, I had my hat cocked a certain type of way and I didn’t know the rules and regulations. And he told me, “Tony, man you gotta keep that hat straight (laughs). And I kept it straight ever since. So, for me, doing my journey as a young Black man from the inner city, raised by a single parent, establishing Suave House at 16 years old, seeing what I went through to establish [the company], and make it a force to be reckoned with. That was an accomplishment, but also I wanted to touch people I knew understood the music and understood where I was coming from and the importance of a young Black man that was a true, independent CEO and giving me the avenue to get my music heard. I’m from Memphis, raised in Houston, but Chicago is Suave House’s biggest market to this date. They supported everything Suave House did and I wanted to bless them [with the Feed Your City Challenge], the same way they blessed me.

With the conversation within the music business revolving around Black Lives Matter and supporting Black communities, what do you think it’ll take to get many of these CEO and executives from the major labels to support these communities like what you and many of the artists have been doing across the country?

I think they have to be involved with people they’re not comfortable with. Stop giving money to these organizations you think is giving the money to Black people, because they’re not. Nobody is holding these organizations accountable. Do business with somebody that has their finger on the pulse. A person that you know is in the music business that has been very successful in the business. Like right now, the Feed Your City Challenge, we’re in our ninth city. We’ve had eight of the top music artists host these cities without funding from the parent companies. [The artists] are giving the money themselves. Jhene Aiko gave money herself. Nick Cannon, himself. Rick Ross, 2 Chainz…Pee from Quality Control. 

Pee was on vacation in Mexico and he took a private jet back to Atlanta just to attend Feed Your City in Atlanta. He didn’t have to do that, but he did because he cares about where he’s from. He cares about the area. He wants to take [talent] from the area, but he also wants to give back to that community. See, white people want to come and exploit your community, but don’t want to build a library over there, never build a basketball court, never build anything. When an artist is dead, they say ahhh aahh ummm. If you wanted to demonstrate good character, you would have said, ‘I made a lot of money off that artist. Let me do something for that community as a token of appreciation for birthing that particular artist.’

I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before.

And you’ll never see it unless I do it and I am going to do it. That’s why I’m in Chicago. I’m going to every city that has blessed me and fed my family because every time I feed myself, I feed my family, my loved ones, it comes from my fans. My fans gave me the opportunity by buying my records. I had a dream, I had a drive, but without the opportunity, you might not have heard of Tony Draper. So, I’m always appreciative of people that have helped me, that’s why I want to help them. I’m in the best place I could ever be in my life. I’m 49 years old, I’m successful, I’m good. Bro, you want to know what makes me happy? Giving to somebody else. There’s another star out there that’s hoping and praying that they could get an opportunity and if I could give them that opportunity, I’ll give it to them. I don’t relish in the attention; I relish in the accomplishment. Let me help somebody. And if I help them and they become successful, they don’t owe me a quarter. I won’t sign them to a management deal or nothing. I just want you to acknowledge it and pass it on. See, we got to learn how to pass it on.

With the timing of this event brought on by the pandemic, how do you feel about it all?

I think it was God’s mission. With COVID that’s really unfortunate, a lot of people lost their lives during this pandemic. A lot of people have lost their jobs, their homes, their properties. My heart goes out to them. But if me and Ricky Davis can put a smile on a mother’s face, a father’s face and feed their children, that’s all I need. I remember me and my mother going to churches and food banks, walking with free government cheese, powdered eggs and we was happy. We were so happy, smiling and grateful. I think without that, I don’t think we would have made it to the following week. So, I’m always thankful for everything God blessed me with. I don’t think I’m special. I think that I had a plan and I stuck to my plan and made it happen.

Suave House has had a lot of artists who have always been outspoken about social and political issues, [similar to like an] Ice Cube recently. Considering that, and what you’re doing with these artists for the Feed Your City Challenge, do you think that the role of the celebrity today is to get in front of these issues or to fall back and support the people who're already doing the work?

I think it’s a choice. For me, I’m not a city official, I’m not a politician. I’m more comfortable with doing and getting my hands dirty on the ground. If I was in Chicago building houses for people, I would actually be there. I wouldn’t [just] send no money or send a crew there. I would be there. That’s how I feel blessed. I feel blessed by actually talking to the people and them seeing me out there distributing groceries. I feel good when a person drives up in their car and they pop their trunk and say ‘Draper?! You putting groceries in my car?!’ And they may be happy about ‘Space Age Pimpin’’ or ‘I’m So Tired of Ballin’’ or whatever, but just the mere fact that they were happy about me putting groceries in their car meant more to me than anything else. I think it’s a choice you make as an individual.

For a lot of people, some celebrities end up causing harm because their celebrity and actions might overshadow the actual issue.

You know what though? Without you being a celebrity, you might not be heard. So why not use that platform to be heard? I think LeBron James is phenomenal. I think Ice Cube is phenomenal. You don’t have to agree with him, but you have to respect him for speaking his mind and trying to get something for Black people. Nobody else did it! Nobody else took the initiative to write a Black America contract and present it to both [Biden and Trump] camps. So, I think that was a phenomenal move, whether I agree with it or not, it was still a phenomenal move. We got to stop with all this goddamn talking and do some action.

Draper and Davis’s Feed Your City Challenge will be arriving in Compton, California as their next stop on November 21.

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Interview: T.I. Talks Activism, Verzuz Battle, And His Desire To Produce A Biopic On His Life Before Fame

Although Tip "T.I." Harris has earned some very respectable stripes as an emcee for his successful rap career, the self-proclaimed “King of the South” moniker really began to take true form once he stepped into his community activism calling. He’s acted in blockbuster films opposite Denzel Washington, Paul Rudd and Kevin Hart, but his willingness to speak truth to power has shown an unwavering commitment to being on the good side of history, as opposed to choosing silence to secure a spot on the good side of Hollywood.

During this recent conversation, Tip talks about his upcoming Verzuz battle with Jeezy, politics, the Trap Music Museum, and his desire to make his TV/film directorial debut.

Be sure to check out his newest album, L.I.B.R.A available on all streaming platforms.

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Ziggy Marley's First Time Voting In America

No more long talking from politicians. Today, the people have their say at the ballot box. Judging by the number of voters who showed up early this year, the 2020 election is going to smash all records for voter participation. With a deadly pandemic, wildfires, floods, economic pressure, and a struggle for survival playing out from the tweets to the streets, the stakes have never been higher.

If you're reading this right now and you haven't voted yet, it's not too late. Get up get out and let your voice be heard. As Samantha Smith recently discussed on her IG Live, this year's election is too important to sit out.

Snoop Dogg will be voting for the first time this year—and he's not the only one. Ziggy Marley voted for the first time this year also and documented the process on social media. "I decided to vote and I wondered to myself why," Ziggy wrote on his IG. "Then I thought about those who came before, the price they paid. In part, I am voting in honor of them and to honor them, to not belittle their many sacrifices and struggles with my high jaded righteousness and indifference. Many brothers and sisters from numerous backgrounds and origins marched, bled, and died to give people like me basic rights in 🇺🇸 , the right to be treated like a human being, the right to vote."

As the eldest son of the Robert Nesta Marley aka the King of Reggae, Ziggy is part of a mighty musical legacy, but his father is more than a musical legend.  The new film Freedom Fighter—part of the 75th anniversary series "Bob Marley Legacy"—examines Marley as a symbol of human rights with a voice more powerful than any politician.

Ziggy has continued his father's musical mission as a solo artist and part of the Grammy-winning family group Melody Makers. His 2018 album, Rebellion Rises opens with a song entitled "See Them Fake Leaders," leaving no doubt about his views on the institutions of government. Still, Ziggy remains engaged in the political process, doing his part and encouraging others to do the same.

"Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, and others thought, 'Voting rights? Civil rights? Who cares? What difference will it make?'" Ziggy wrote on IG. "Just imagine what the world would have looked like now if not for their sacrifices. Go ahead, imagine it. Can you see it? Well, what do you think?"

"To be clear voting is not the end-all," Ziggy Marley added. "It is a small piece of a puzzle and just one of the tools in our toolbox that we must use as part of a larger effort to bring positive beneficial changes for all people. The work must continue at maximum effort after elections regardless of the outcome." Ziggy emphasized that he was not voting for a party or a person for an idea. "Even though we have differences we can be better human beings, more united human beings, more loving human beings, equal human beings, just human beings. The politics will come and go left right and center but still through it all the humanity that we must show to each other is not negotiable."

Ziggy voted by mail this year, but for those of you standing in line today to exercise your right and let your voices be heard, Ziggy curated a special playlist for Tidal's "Hold The Line" campaign. Music to vote by—from Ziggy and Bob to Fela and James Brown, not to mention Public Enemy and Rage Against The Machine.

Ziggy Marley’s new album, More Family Time, is out now on all music streaming platforms.

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