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1) Do you remember the moment you wanted to be a hip-hop artist?

Yeah, I remember the moment very well. It was on May 4th, 2010, and I was 14 years old. I would elaborate on it further but it’s actually a big part of my debut project ‘Thought Waves’.

The story of how it happened is kind of what ties the project all together at the end, so I don’t want to spoil anything for the listeners. Let’s just say it was a very memorable experience.

2) What was it like creating your latest project – Thought Waves?

Making ‘Thought Waves’ was fun. Tons of fun. I love making music so at the end of the day it’s always a good experience overall. Just because it was fun doesn’t mean it was easy though. It was hands down one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

It was stressful, tiring, exciting, overwhelming, and beautiful at the same time. I spent a year on ‘Thought Waves’. Working every single day. Writing, making beats, mixing songs, you name it. I did a lot of it by myself, on my laptop, on my own time. There were some nights this year that I didn’t even sleep because I was working so hard on it. I go to college so balancing school with music with my social life was hard, but I managed to do it still. It just made making ‘Thought Waves’ take longer than I would have liked, but in the end everything worked out.

I always put music first. I know where my heart is and what I need to do to get where I want to get. I’m a perfectionist, so I made sure to spend days on each song in order to make them as close to perfect, structurally and sonically and conceptually, as my small budget can allow at this point in my career. But yeah, it was a blast making my latest project.

3) What are you trying to achieve with the project?

With this project I mainly just wanted to grab people’s attention. As simple as that. At this point in time I’m pretty underground. My buzz is very low and not many people know about me yet at all. So I treat this project like my introduction into the game.

Sort of a way to let people know a bit about myself and where I come from before I dive even deeper into it. The second song on the tape is actually called “Stretchin” and it’s pretty much just a big metaphor for how though I’m not “in” the rap game fully yet, I’m still warming up for it. This is only the beginning. I know this because I’m a realest. I understand the game.

This is only my first mixtape so I’m not expecting to blow up off of it. But it’s a start. ‘Thought Waves’ was my way of telling the world, ‘Hey, I was able to make THIS album-quality mixtape on my own (for the most part) while attending college and not having much money, so just imagine what the next one will be like next year once I’m back in the Bay and have more of a team behind me…”

4) What are your thoughts on staying independent or signing to a major label?

I think staying independent is the way to go, in this day and age. Artists have more power than people think. If you work hard, build your brand, and really obtain a strong core following, I think that you can independently maneuver through this business and be successful.

That’s what I plan to do at least. You just need to have the talent, work ethic, and vision. HOWEVER, I personally wouldn’t always be opposed to signing with a label. So long as I’m still able to have full creative control. That’s all I really want at the end of the day. Control of my music/message.

So if a label ever approaches me and says they’re willing to be my “partner” rather than me “owner” and are down to help my vision, then I’d for sure be down to work with them. They just need to care about the actual musical content as much as I do and not just be on me for a “radio single” and stuff like that.

Because I can make singles. I can make singles all day. And I do. But it’s the songs with true substance and meaning that I care about most. Those are the real gems.

5) How do you feel about the independent hip-hop industry right now?

Like I said in my last response, I think being independent is the way to go. With artists making a lot of profit from merch and touring and stuff like that, I don’t think people really need to sign with a label to be financially successful in the game.

With that being said, I don’t think everyone is meant to be an independent artist either. Some people like to be told what to do and how to do it, and in turn will be happy choosing that path. For those who have a set vision in mind and understand how to move through the game and touch the people how they want to touch the people on the other hand, I think the independent hip-hop industry will be more than willing to accept them. Everybody has their own path.

6) As an independent hip-hop artist grinding it out, what sort of promotion and marketing are you doing to stand out from the rest?

Well other than just putting out high-quality, fresh music, my main strong points for promotion these upcoming months will be music videos and shows. I’ve always loved making videos. Even before I started rapping.

I’m a creative person and enjoy making art, whether it be audio or visual. So with that being said, I plan to direct a lot of my videos and even film and edit some of them myself too. I’m also down to work with many others though, and am looking forward to making videos with professional filmers in the Bay Area. There’s a lot of dope directors out there.

I already have visions for a lot of the videos for songs off of ‘Thought Waves’ and I know that I want all of them to be unique in some way. Not just your average “rap video” necessarily, but actual short films with plots and storylines and choreographed dances and props and all that.

I want to make my videos all something special and memorable. Same with my shows. I don’t plan to just stand on stage and rap and call it night. If people are spending money to see a Sky.P show then I’m going to give them their money’s worth, times 10. I want them to leave the show and feel like they just experienced something that no one else in the world will ever experience, at least not in the same venue on the same night.

Each show should be an “event” in itself, I think. Something people never forget. I have a few ideas in mind but don’t want to spoil the surprises. People will just have to come see me perform this summer. So far I have a few shows lined up in July. I’ll keep people updated via my website skypmusic.com

7) How do you think you’ve grown as an artist?

I’ve grown tremendously as an artist in terms of understanding how to make a song, and how to find myself not just as a rapper, but as a producer and a singer as well. I used to be afraid to sing, and not even know how to produce.

Now I sing on almost every song in ‘Thought Waves’ and some of my favorite beats on the tape are produced by myself. I think I’m finally getting the hang of things and getting close to where I want to be, and when you work as hard as I do, it feels amazing to realize that. I’m growing rapidly, too.

I made most of ‘Thought Waves’ just a few months ago and I already feel like I’m miles ahead of it now. Maybe that’s how every artist feels after they put out a project though. Who knows. Regardless I’m hyped to continue to promote ‘Thought Waves’ while making more new material as well.

8) How do you feel about hip-hop today?

I think hip-hop is dope today. I think it’s safe to say the whole “hip-hop is dead” notion is a thing of the past. Not only is hip-hop alive in 2015, it is alive & well. Violence is glorified less, Gang stuff is taking a back seat to creativity and love, and quite frankly I think it’s starting to become “cool” to be unique and yourself now.

I remember when I was younger it seemed like everyone wanted to be “so and so”, and to be them they did “this and that”, and over time it just felt like one big ass game of copycat. I think nowadays artists like J.Cole and Mac Miller and Chance are finally getting the credit they deserve for being themselves and keeping real to what they believe in, and in return it’s showing young artists like me that you don’t have to be anybody you’re not for this business.

The game isn’t looking for the next ______. It’s looking for fresh new talent. And thankfully there’s a lot of it in the world now. For the consumers it’s just a matter of choosing who you want to rock with and support along the way.

9) What artists in the game today do you look at for inspiration?

I look at a lot of artists for inspiration, but mainly Chicago rappers. Which is surprising because I’m from the West Coast. But yeah, Lupe Fiasco is my favorite lyricist overall, so I’m always studying his work, but I also love Kanye West (Late Registration is my favorite hip-hop album ever), Common, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, and pretty much all of the SaveMoney Camp.

I like what they’re doing for the culture and can relate to their approach to music. Sometimes I feel like a Chicago rapper that was born in the Bay Area. But I’m happy about it. There’s a lot of vibrance in these two places. I also look at artists of other genres for inspiration. Kehlani (a fellow Bay Area native!) is an r&b singer but she inspires me daily.

Same with people like Coldplay and Lana Del Rey. I’m really into “cinematic” sounding music so both Coldplay and Lana are always on my mind, helping me push forward and create the sound I want to create.

10) Who are your top 5 rappers dead or alive?

Top 5 dead or alive in terms of skill and influence (it changes all of the time) is probably Pac, Nas, Jay, Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco. That’s hard though because I feel like it’s just wrong to leave Em and Biggie out of the list. But still, I guess those are my top 5 for now.

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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.