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1) How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?

I’ve been rapping for seven years now, which is crazy to think about. It’s funny how I first got into hip-hop and rap. Back when I was a fan of WWE, there was this wrestler, John Cena, who had these rap battles. It was just cool to watch and hear what’s been said. God damn, I even bought the ‘John Cena – You Can’t See Me’ album!

But yeah, from then on I got into different types of hip-hop artists such as Eminem, D12, Brother Ali, Atmosphere, 50 Cent, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, there’s just plenty. I’m also more into the Australian hip-hop scene. I listen to artists such as Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso, Drapht, Horrorshow, Urthboy, Thundamentals, Bias B, there’s just so many awesome rappers!

Anyways, back in ‘08, Eminem was the rapper that made me start writing my own rap lyrics. I used to have a rap name called ‘Element-A’, but I discontinued because, and one of the reasons why is, of the ongoing bullying I got when I first came out as a rapper in high-school. So after that, I ended up using my real life name and I’ve been sticking with it ever since.

2) What sort of hurdles and obstacles did you face to get to where you are now?

I had to go through A LOT of people that doubted me. People didn’t take me serious. Like I said previously, back in ’08, I got bullied and doubted a lot. Me, being the shy quiet kid in high-school, it’s just so unexpected to most people when I tell them I make rap songs. Still till this day people don’t expect that when they first meet me.

The gear I had when creating these songs, I remember that being a struggle, just figuring out how to record my shit. I started with a laptop microphone, and the way I’d set it up was to have the beat in the background and then record my rapping on a recorder that was installed with Windows XP. Crazy!

Soon after, I began using a dynamic computer mic for a year or so, and then my parents got me a Behringer recording bundle, which came with the C-1 condenser mic, Xyenx 802 mixer and FCA202 audio interface. And a DAW program, I forgot what that was called. That’s also another thing too, I ended up going through different DAW programs. First one was Mixcraft, running a trial version of it. Then after the trial was up, I went to the next DAW I found. So on and so on ‘til I discovered torrenting and then actually buying the software!

Performing live would be a big hurdle for me. As you know, a shy quiet guy being up on stage would be absolutely terrifying. And it was. But as I continued performing live, I just got used to the atmosphere and, at one moment, having everyone cheer and follow along with what I said, it’s such a great feeling. And I am willing to perform again.

I guess, getting recognised is also tough challenge, and it still is for me. I use YouTube to grow my fanbase and just getting myself out there. I started doing that since 2011 (a friend of mine made me get into this whole YouTube thing). My channel is slowly growing and hopefully someday it’ll get to where I’d like it to be.

What I’ve been uploading to my YouTube channel is mostly original music (and some remixes) for a YouTube rap series of mine called ‘Sunday Verses’. But I also plan on making more video game raps and uploading them from now on as they’re really popular in the YouTube gaming community.

3) What’s the hardest thing about being an independent artist?

I would have to say staying on top of things when you’ve got other things to commit to. That would definitely be a hard thing for me, personally. I’m currently working a job that has you work 12 hour shifts (max) and at the end of the day, you just feel drained out. No energy to do other things. All you wanna do is chill.

But I do have my moments where I do end up writing/typing a few bars or record and/or mix. I guess it’s just how I feel in that moment of time. Just gotta do what you gotta do. I also have a fortnight schedule with my YouTube channel, so that does motivate me to get things crackin’.

4) Are there any independent hip-hop artists out there who inspire and motivate you?

Definitely! Dan Bull is one of those artists. He creates dope video game raps and that just motivates me want to make more of my own! He’s currently dealing with health problems, but just seeing him do his best with what he loves to do is an inspiration.

Hilltop Hoods and Brother Ali, they inspired me get into more of a storytelling type style which is carried throughout my second album, ‘Storyteller’. ‘Stopping All Stations’ by Hilltop Hoods and ‘Tight Rope’ by Brother Ali actually motivated me to write the song ‘Always a Choice (feat. Dominic Choi)’.

5) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully make a living with doing what I love doing, but if that doesn’t happen, I’d then be working at a job that has steady hours so I’ll be able to have more focus on my music.

6) Who were the first influences on your music and style?

It’s gotta be Eminem. First starting out, I just ended up having that style he had. His lyrics are amazing, but when I first made my attempt, my lyrics didn’t make any sense. Now it’s just speaking your mind and being original with it, along with the different techniques for rapping. It’s the proper way to go.

7) If you could choose to collaborate with 3 other artists on the same track – who would they be?

  • Dan Bull
  • Brother Ali
  • Mantra

8) What makes your music different to other artists?

Probably the different types of beats I rap to would make my music different from other artists. I work with an incredible producer, Antames, and every beat he sends me just sounds awesome and completely unexpected from the beats other artists rap to. It’s hard for me to make beats like his because the way he puts everything together and how all the instruments work with each other, it’s incredible.

9) What are you hoping to achieve with your music?

As cliché as it may sound, I’d like to have my music connect with people. I’d like to share my experiences with what I’ve been through over the past few years and have songs like that, to actually relate to other people, is definitely something I hope to achieve.

10) What do you think is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself has to overcome, to gain commercial success?

Depending on the person, if someone that listens to mostly American hip-hop, and then they listen to me; they’re most likely going to be put off with the accent at first. Perhaps they might get used to it after a few minutes.

Being that I want to get recognised on YouTube, which I guess has mostly American people on it, it may be hard for me to get through. So I guess targeting the right people is a major play in this. Also, pretty much knowing that there are so many competitors out there that just want to gain the same success I’d like to gain can be a barrier. You know, so many people are out there, it’s like a battleground.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.