08 Dec Urbyn Loft Exclusive: Rashaun Will, ‘Gift from God’
New York is known as an international melting pot that celebrates diversity. Hip hop artist Rashaun Will has taken his sound global, and the release of his new album on December 21st, Gift from God, is sure to keep heads bobbin’ on both sides of the Atlantic.
In this exclusive interview, we caught up with the mini-mogul to get inside the head of one of the genre’s consummate indie artists.
Move, new single from Gift From God
Currently, a lot of music on the scene emphasizes production over the actual vocals of the artist. How has your background as an instrumentalist and songwriter complemented your musical process?
I always said you can have a hot beat but it’s always gonna come back to the lyrical content of the song. Artists with good beats and catchy hooks tend to end up one hit wonders. Statistics show in 2015 only Drake and J. Cole went platinum, so that shows you still have to give the people real substance, not just a hot beat. I’m gonna always push my content to the max, regardless if the beat is today’s trend or not.
Independent artists are becoming the norm in the industry. What advice do you have to any up and coming artists looking to take their career to the next level?
First, get a budget because the indie route is more costly than the majors. You have to do pretty much everything yourself. Stay active, network, and have faith in yourself. It’s a lonely grind when you’re on the come up.
Your first album debuted in 2002, and unlike many artists that fall by the wayside, you are still here in 2015. What steps have you taken to ensure success on each project?
In 2002 there was none of these social networks that we have now, so back then I had to hit the streets hard, hit every local retailer… but as time went by, things became more digital, so I made sure I grew with time and evolved with the new technology we have now.
Each project is based off my mood at that time so none of my projects sound the same.
Compare European audiences to America ones. What are the differences that you notice between the two?
In Europe it’s more about the culture than sales and popularity, whereas in America it’s all about who is on the radio and selling the most records.
Hip Hop lives in Europe now. The sound is still rugged, they appreciate the music more. I’ve seen b-boys and b-girls in Europe, the graffiti kids and so forth. Whereas in America you don’t see that the culture has changed.
You launched your own label in 2014. What are the difficulties of managing a label and balancing that with your artist goals?
Like any business, when you are dealing with different personalities, it’s hard to be on common ground because you have to know when to take off the artist hat and put on the business hat when being independent, but I love it. I have the freedom to do what I want and how I want.
What can listeners expect from your upcoming album, ‘Gift from God’?
The content is very strong. I talk about today’s issues in politics, race, police brutality, and religion. The beats are real hip hop with that 90s vibe, so don’t expect any turn-up ratchet music. This is only for the lovers of raw beats and lyrics.
Hands in the Air, new single from Gift From God
The question has been asked many times: can hip hop and electronica co-exist side by side? And if so, how?
There’s no rules in music. Genres have crossed paths now so it’s not a big issue. I even jumped into the EDM lane but still maintain my hip hop credibility. As an artist, do what you like and feel comfortable with there’s no standards.
What are the next goals you would like to achieve in your professional career?
I have my own Rashaun Will clothing line I’m gonna focus on more after music, and I’m currently looking into new ventures outside of music.
My biggest goal is to give back more to the community and help those in need. I believe in give as much as you get because you can’t take it with you when you no longer here.
Which musical influences have directly affected you?
In the beginning it was old school hip hop that drove me to pursue music, but today I find myself looking elsewhere for inspiration because I’m not really into the new artists that have came out… but there are a few here and there I like.
If you could collaborate with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be and why?
Biggie and Pac. They stood for something bigger than music. Pac wanted to make a change and I admired that; a Biggie collaboration would be crazy! His lyrical skill is just top-notch and I believe I can hang with the best of them.
Where do you see your career ten years from now?
Retired, laying on a beach. Hahahahahah.
Keep up to date on the latest news from Rashaun Will:
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | SOUNDCLOUD
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