Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Essence of Hip-Hop: Interview with Sundance, P.A.T Junior, Descendant, & Brazy

      Recently I tweeted that I wanted to do an interview with an artist on the culture of hip-hop. To my surprise, I received a high number of responses from artists wanting to be apart of this interview. It then occurred to me that I could use all of these willing participants to conduct a study on hip-hop as a whole. I then sent four artists the exact same questions, and awaited their responses. Through this, readers will notice parallels and polar opposites in the artists, though they all work in the same industry. I find it fascinating that four guys all working the same job can think exactly alike on one aspect of hip-hop, but completely disagree on another, it's truly awesome!
     To make this more interesting, I used three artists that have been featured on the site, and one that hasn't. Additionally, none of the artists names were released to each other, and all of the artists span from all over America. Give this article a read, compare and contrast the responses, and comment what you think about the post! Additionally, I want to send out a BIG thank you to SundanceP.A.T Junior, Descendant, and Brazy. You guys are awesome for taking the time to make this work!

D=Descendant, S=Sundance, P=P.A.T Junior, B=Brazy

Can you first introduce yourself? 
-My name is Descendent from Newport News, VA, I been making music for over 10 years. 

-Sundance, a producer/emcee currently residing in Missoula, Montana, but originally from San Diego. Been at it seriously for last 15+ years. 

-My name is P.A.T. Junior, I’m originally from New York but have been residing in Raleigh, North Carolina for some time now.  I’ve been making art (seriously) for almost 3 years.

-My Name is Brazy, I was born in raised in South Los Angeles and have called Las Vegas home since 2005. I've been rhyming since 1992.

What makes hip-hop so appealing to the younger generation?

D-The reason why hip-hop is appealing to the younger generation is because the culture started from the youth. They took away the instruments and after school programs in the schools and the youth had nothing positive to do, being that it was a lot of negative images around with the gangs and violence. The blacks and Latinos created hip-hop a way to express themselves without violence. Its all about style, having fun, and being original which most youth want to have.  

S-Probably depends on where the fans come from… for some, it's the attraction to the "sound of not giving a [bleep]", to others its the idea of elevation from negative surroundings (which I gravitate towards), and then to others still…it's like an arena in Ancient Rome. They are here for the spectacle of it all.

P-If we’re talking about the negative side of Hip-Hop?  Money, popularity, fame, half naked women, cars and all that other stuff some rappers do in their videos.  But, if we’re talking about the art form?  The more mature “younger generation” are drawn to hip-hop because there is freedom of expression and the style of music.  Also, Hip-hop/rap is the only genre of music that can take a pop song, rock song, or any other genre and make it hip-hop.  And that is what pull a lot of people in, the dynamics of the Hip-Hop “sound”.

B-I think HipHop appeals to all generations, just like all other types of music. But if you are specifically talking about what the music industry is pushing on the radio and tv, first off it's not HipHop and second, they market it to your people, plain and simple.

Why do you think older generations have a hard time connecting with hip-hop?

D-Well since the beginning of the hip-hop culture it was always look down upon because where it came from. Other genres, record companies,  and America look at it as a fad and will be over soon. On the other hand Hip-Hop is not even 50 years old yet so its still a young genre, they didn't understand the scratching of the DJs, loud music, or the way we wear our clothes. But if you look throughout music history just about every genre had that problem until it was world wide. As Hip-Hop gets older so will more generations to come. 

S-Oh man, this could be a 10-paragraph answer hahaha! 
I'd say firstly, they are only exposed to RAP. They don't really know the culture, or history of HIP HOP. The typical older generation is only exposed to what these media oligarchs want them to hear… but unfortunately, this first exposure is a complete betrayal of what it really is, and probably turns them away before they can discover the huge amounts of good stuff that exists out there.

P-Everything I said in the previous question.  I just had this discussion with my wife not to long ago.  There are plethora of people who only see the surface of Hip-Hop music.  They see the rap videos with all the half naked women twerking before the see the Lupe Fiasco’s and Shad K’s.  Why? Ratchetness is more appealing to the masses.  The masses (majority) then disseminate what’s appealing to them across culture and amongst their circles.  Then somebody’s grandma sees the video with all the negativity, inquires about it and it becomes her first and last impression of Hip-Hop. 
     Then you have older people who say rap is “loud” and rambunctious. But what genre music isn't “loud” and rambunctious at times? 

B-I don't think they do, I think HipHop appeals to all generations, just like all other types of music. But if you are specifically talking about what the music industry is pushing on the radio and tv, first off, it's not HipHop and second, they market it to young people, plain and simple.

What is your definition of hip-hop?

D-Love, peace, having fun, freedom of expression and rebellious from a system that does that want us here. 

S-"Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live." -KRS

P-A genre in which artists are responsible for expressing truth and hope, while still making good music/art.  It’s a culture of individuals who are responsible for teaching those who are up and coming artists how to create new avenues of expression for themselves and set an example generations to come.  It's a culture of individuals who are also responsible for teaching the up and comers on how to communicate effectively through their art.  It's a voice for the poor, the broken and the misunderstood.

B-HipHop is a culture. The music of HipHop culture is two turntables and a microphone, being used by a DJ and an MC. 

What sub-categories are there? Which do you classify your music?

D-Honestly, I don't like sub- categories because it all falls under one element of the Hip-Hop culture which is rap music. I like to classify my music as soul music and leave it up to the fans to classify my music. 

S-Bro…I can't call it. So many categories, so little time. Seems like everything mainstream is some derivative of club music though lately, while underground still has that classic sound. I'd say my last album was more jazzy Boom Bap mixed in with Downtempo stuff.

P-Too many to count (lol).  That can be a good thing and a bad thing for Hip-Hop.  I’d say my music is Hip-Hop/Eclectic.  I love underground, boom bap(ish) hip-hop. But I think there’s a place for it.  When it comes to music, I really don’t have a “taste”. If it sounds good and its saying something with substance, I rock with it.  So because I’m influenced by various genre’s, I’d say Hip-Hop/Eclectic.

B- I don't think there are sub-categories, it's either HipHop or it isn't. I make HipHop music.

Is hip-hop for everyone? 
D-Hip-Hop is for everybody but everybody may not understand. It is a lot of closed minded people which will see the industry which does not represent the culture and think that's what Hip-Hop is all about and that is not true.

S-No. The real strength of hip hop is unity through struggle, and in order to embody that, you have to be willing to face yourself, people's perceptions of you, and your past to learn how to create a better future. Not everyone wants that...

P-No.  There are people who consume and hate both aspects of its negativity and positivity.  That’s just how the world works.  If everyone loved Hip-Hop, I wouldn't want to be apart of it.

B-HipHop is by the people for the people, so yea, it's for everyone. 

"The minority speaks for the majority." Is this statement true or false in regards to hip-hop? Why or why not?

D-Well, in reality if you really look at it, the so called "minority" is really the majority but I do agree with that statement. Because there is more oppressed people in this world and I feel Hip-Hop speaks to those people worldwide! No matter what culture, race, or how you were raised it reaches you. Hip-Hop is universal!

S-False. I feel like those who control what the majority hears, suppress the minority voice in favor of what's the most marketable. They are selling a giant fashion statement. This statement is dressed in something not too far from Little Brother's "The Minstrel Show"- claiming freedom from the struggle in one hand, while locking us up in chains on the other. Funny thing is, the people who really believe we want to see this mockery of our art are the TRUE minority. Most of us are starving for a change, and I believe it will happen soon.

P-I’d like to think so.  The minorities in Hip-Hop are the Shad K’s, Kendrick’s, LeCrae’s and Propaganda’s.  Even though Kendrick Lamar is “popular”, he’s still a minority in that his content has substance.  Its conscious, positive etc.  Artists of that nature understand what the purpose of Hip-Hop music is for; they understand where it started and they’re preserving the hope of its essence and adding more too it.

B-Not sure I understand the concept of this phrase. But with HipHop consisting of people from all walks of life and each person having their own thoughts and beliefs, I would have to say no.

Is there a difference between rap and hip-hop? Or are they one in the same?

D-In the words of the great KRS One " Rap is something you do, Hip-Hop is something you live." Rap music is just one element of the Hip-Hop culture. 

S-For sure. Like I said above, I think a lot of people are just playing dress up. They're co-opting a form of struggle into their own identity and make believing they understand something when they probably don't. They are into RAP, and will probably outgrow it when they "decide to get serious" with their lives. But Hip Hop is much deeper than that. Hip Hop shakes free from the oppressor's mentality, and claims a new life. Graffiti deconstructs our nation's historically spotty definition of property, and turns it upside down. Breaking does the same with movement. DJ'ing does the same with musical structure, and MC'ing does the same with words...  

P- Yes. Simply put: Hip-Hop is the culture and rap is one of its communication forms.  However, rap was its first form of communication.

B-Rhythmic American Poetry, as the D.O.C. says. I've always thought that Rap was what an MC does, as a part of HipHop music. But as the music industry created the crossover mainstream copycat they try to call HipHop, I've taken to the 'I don't Rap, I Rhyme' mantra. I let the suckas have Rap, while we kept HipHop.

Why did you chose to make hip-hop music, out of all the other genres out there?

D-It was the first genre of music I fell in love with. I remember at the time chillin' with my uncles, my father, or going to school talking about the Hip-Hop culture. Weather it was lyrics some of our favorite emcees said, different styles, and dances etc. I started to write poetry then it turned into writing my first rhyme....but when I performed for the first I had to be apart of the Hip-Hop culture!

S-I just identified very early on with the concept of making something out of nothing, I guess. 

P-I’d say Hip-Hop chose me.  This goes back to what I said about first impressions.  I wasn’t exposed to what the masses hear first.  My mom introduced me to Hip-Hop. Tupac, Biggie, Tribe Called Quest, Talib, Common and others in the same circles/in the same vein of communication.  I was immediately drawn in by the sound and I’ve loved it ever since.

B-I've always listened to and enjoyed all kinds of music. But I didn't like to sing and never learned to play an instrument. Then Cypress Hill dropped their first album and it was the first time I ever seen/heard people who looked like me rockin the mic. That was the first time I ever thought about writing rhymes. As I began to capture my thoughts on paper, on a regular basis, it became an outlet that kept me sane through the years.

Do you think that other artists in the industry would have similar answers to the same questions? If not why?

D-I think you will get a little of both. Some you will get similar answers and some will be totally different. It really all depends on what that artist wants. Some are about contributing to the culture and some are just about the money.

S-Maybe... it's such a nuanced conversation though, it'd be tough to say. I personally know that everyone in my camp (Boombox Titans, Illect Recordings) feels the same way, but for others, they might see it different. But I'm all for healthy discourse. That's how we grow.

P-Definitely.  I know this because many of the artists I build with agree in many areas of our view on Hip-Hop culture and music.  Some of the same questions you gave me, they’d answer somewhat of the same way.

B-Sure, but it depends on their motives for doing what they do. If they trying to make the next one hit wonder, they will not. But if their appreciation for life is rooted in this culture we call HipHop, then yes.

*Thanks for checking out this article! I'd love to see everyone's responses to the interviews, so please comment your thoughts below!

@descendentMC | @iampatjunior | @SunDiesel | @_Brazy


  1. Interesting piece. It's cool to see the perspective of many different artists on this

  2. Thanks for checking it out! Hopefully there will be many more like this!

  3. Even though a lot of their answers are worded different and some more in depth than others sadly I feel they share almost the same elitist bleak outlook on the culture which I once shared as a champion emcee of the underground. I can't say you didn't struggle because you aren't an impoverished minority, and I can't say you want to turn on this thought provoking song while on you're way out to let loose and drink with friends. There isn't enough balance on a mainstream level no, but hip hop was founded on partying and dancing to break beats out in the park way before Rakim and KRS-One laid the groundwork for lyricism. There is something for everybody in this genre which makes it great. I know of no other genre which shows the diversity of pop smashes, club bangers, story telling, horror core and more which could be found all rolled up in one album if done right.

  4. Wow, very insightful Tino. You make some great points, especially your last sentence. Very powerful. Thanks for your input man, and I'll have to get you in on the next one to get your views!

  5. lol You know me. I'm always willing to give out my two cents.



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