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1) Talk to me about the making of your latest project. What was the inspiration behind it?

Two things I’m currently working on: 1) releasing the “GO GRIFF” single on July 14th on iTunes or TIDAL then following up the with THE HYPE EP in August! GO Griff came from a beat I found on the internet and recorded it in my house.

When I released the song, the buzz just and grew, especially after I performed it a few times in Jersey, it became a huge hit. After I had the song for a while and somebody like you should see about purchasing the beat from the producer.

I contacted the producer on his booking info one afternoon, and within 30 mins he hit me back like…”Let’s work”! I bought the beat from him and the rest is history as they say.

The inspiration behind the song came from my previous job where I traveled full time. When I say full time traveler, I mean over 30 flight connections and over 25,000 miles a year, so everyone always said I was always going places”, and asking me where are you going next, and word got around I was always traveling and one day someone said “Where you going Griff” and from there it turned into “GO Griff”.

I also used to write the majority of my songs either on the plane or at the airport, so I was literally going somewhere.

2) With the music industry tanking and record sales falling, how do you envision yourself earning a living as an independent hip-hop artist?

I don’t see being an independent hip-hop artist all being about selling music! I see it being a lot about branding yourself, merchandizing, participation in sponsored events, performing and starring a movement for people to believe in you more than just buying a $0.99 single.

3) From a business point of view, which artists in the game do you think are really pushing the boundaries and changing it up?

From a business perspective any artist that successfully uses the “PAY WHAT YOU WANT” campaign, self-branding, keeping up with the latest technology or can maximizes revenue from touring is a winner in my eyes. If I had to specifically name some artists in the game, not on the Indie level that I feel are super, super business savvy, I’d name of Course Jay-z, 50 cent, and last but not least Kanye West!

As far as independent artist winning from a business perspective, I’d say Nipsey Hustle really showed a lot of business savvy by releasing the $100 album, Skyzoo following up with his own PWYW campaign, of course Tech-9 with his whole indie movement from day 1, and SMFiends and the whole Dreamville Team doing music and branding.

I actually learn a lot from myself, if that’s possible. I approach this whole indie perspective the same as my professional career!! Focusing on realistic goals, project management principles, and observing others and learning from their mistakes.

4) What business lessons have you learnt from the music industry so far?

Three things 1) say what you do and do what you say 2) allow people to connect with your through your music. In other words don’t be afraid to add emotion or a real story to your music and 3) don’t send people money you don’t know off social media! Their Instagram is a LIAR!!!

5) What do you love about hip-hop music?

What I love about Hip-hop music is the culture, the people and the music! The culture encompasses everything from the fashion to the creativity, the lyricism, the concept of lyrics, rhythm, and flow…just everything that makes the culture one of a king!

The thing that makes the rap cultures the most imitated culture on the planet, even through the world acts like the don’t fully embrace it. I love the people in hip hop because as much alike as all rappers are, your can always find 100 ways they are n’t, which for me growing up showed me how to be unique and how to be cool.

Growing up I used to see these rappers, and even though they aren’t role models, I used to borrow certain things about each one and make it my own. you know. from the walk, the talk, and everything like that.

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6) What still surprises you about hip-hop?

The thing that still surprises me about the most about hip-hop good and bad, is the “Good” being just how far the influence of rap/ hip hop extends. You know, across boarders, and in a sense space and time!!

You can look back on 80’s rappers who seemed to be psychic by saying things ahead of there time that came into fruition 20 years later, and rappers now going back to the 80’s and reviving fashion, clothes, and sneakers. The “BAD” surprises me just How much it labeled as the culprit and how much hip-hop music is bashed as destroying the community!

On a flip side, i think there are a couple of lives that hip-hop has saved as well! Shout out to Lupe Fiasco for that song “Hip-hop saved my life”! that’s real talk right there.

7) If you had the power to change one thing about the hip-hop industry to help independent artists – what would it be?

I would honestly turn back the hands of time and go back to the time of record labels. Especially in the 90’s, the getting was good then as far as artists getting a chance to put out a mainstream single. It seems now a days you can’t really find anyone who knows someone from a record label. Back in those days, budgets were plentiful.

It seemed like every day there was a new artist you never heard of and never will again! Don’t get me wrong that time wasn’t perfect and the industry was over saturated with a lot of garbage but the reason why I say go back to this is because besides the gimmick rappers, 360 deals and one hit wonders, anybody with talent will have a lasting impression.

8) Who do you think are top 3 rappers doing it at the moment?

There is no way I can answer this question without being bias! There are a lot of guys I know personally and make music with from NJ who I think are the best at what they do, like Base Bronson (@lordnsavior), Bulletproof Belf (@bulletproof_belv), Pinkfontaine (@pinkfontaine), etc but that’s just my option.

To attempt to answer honestly I’ll have to break it down into 3 categories, Indie, mainstream, and Popular rappers. There are a couple of top indie rappers but besides working on my own music now, I really on listen to Skyzoo.

My Top 3 mainstream rappers in my opinion are Jay-z, Kanye, and Fabolous. my Top 3 Pop-culture rappers on the radio right now are Fetty Wap, Meek Mill, and Drake.

9) So what are your plans for the future?

My future plans are the same as any independent artist. Keep doing shows, getting more bookings, connect and collab with other rappers mainstream and indie, keep releasing music, go to A3c in Atlanta, GA, go to SXSW in Austin, TX, and and eventually get an official release!! I currently have shows booked until April 2016, I’m working on some features with recognized artists, my EP “THE HYPE” will be finished and will be coming out in August. So stay tuned for new music!

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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.