#FireFriday, Editorial, interview

Famous Dex Talks New Album & Dual Identities In Exclusive Interview

“I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that.”

Coated in Diamonds, with a Gucci bag draped at his hip, Chicago rapper Famous Dex took the stage in a black werewolf T-shirt at New York’s Gold Bar on March 27 to premiere his new album Dex Vs. Dexter, and to receive a gold certification plaque for his bouncy track “Pick It Up” with A$AP Rocky. The album, while still flux in braggadocio lyrics, demonstrates creative growth for the rapper. Released on April 6th, the date was personally chosen by Dex to coincide with the three year anniversary of his mother’s passing from breast cancer. “It’s influenced my hustle. Everything I do now has a greater purpose because of her,” Dex told Above Average Hip-Hop. “The decisions I make with my family and my career, I always consider what she would tell me.”

The project’s theme of separate entities, while not a foreign concept in Hip-Hop, paints the audacious artist as someone more than how he appears to fans. “I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that,” the artist said of his two identities. “Dex is the romantic guy,” he said with a laugh, “Dex is single, well both Dex and Dexter are single, but Dex loves women, chilling, vibing, [and] not doing too much. Sometimes people see me on a video, and I’m really laid back, that’s Dex.” In contrast, ‘Dexter’ is the artist everyone is familiar with. “He’s a clown, wild, crazy with ad-libs and everything. Dexter is who most people know in my music.” The two characters are fully realized on the albums cover art, with “Dex” sprawled on a green leather couch with a girl on his lap, while “Dexter” zooms around the couch in an animated form.

 
In contrast to Dex’s previous work, the rapper’s official debut is heavy on pop influences. The hook on “Prove It,” is layered in a pop-rock guitar riff and steady 808 drums. “Take this ride with me, sip this Hennessy, I got bands on me…Ooh girl you so sweet,” Dex sings in the third verse. Another drastic musical departure for the mumble rapper comes in the form of “LIGHT,” a radio-ready single featuring pop-rock quartet Drax Project. “Aw man, Drax! I love those guys,” Dex said of working with the band. “It just happened, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m not going to question God because it’s dope! I’ve never made a song like that before.” Dex sings on the track alongside the group, his gooey auto-tuned vocals harmonizing with Drax.

However, Dex still makes room on his debut to tackle familiar territory. “LIGHT” is followed by “Celine,” a barely-two-minute bouncy interlude that finds the rapper reassuring his fans not everything has changed. “My favorite track to get hype to is ‘Celine.’ That song is fire,” Dex said. “It’s so natural to me, and I love to perform it.” Other tracks like the lead single “Japan,” “Take Her” with Wiz Khalifa and the album’s intro “DMD” find Dex in his comfort zone as he tackles beats by Pi’erre Bourne and J Gramm, among others. “This whole album is a celebration,” Dex said. Even with a new album just released, Dex is already planning his next steps. “I’m already working on my next album, Rich Forever got something fire coming out soon, so be on the lookout for that.”

interview, Interviews

Sha Money XL Artist Tedy Andres Drops New Track “Ominous” & Chats Upcoming LP

“I just want to be the best,” he exclaims without hesitation.

It’s been a process for young Houston-bred MC Tedy Andres; he’s been bubbling up over the past few years, setting the stage for his upcoming release, which is poised to change everything. “I’ve been rapping since I was like 13,” he tells AAHH, “that was ten years ago, man., man.

“It’s been a slow build,” he continues. “I released a project called Mad Illusions and started getting a little buzz off the song called ’Mercedes.’” He rode that buzz and aside from multiple online nods, captured the attention of industry heavyweight Sha Money XL.

 
Sha was a producer for 50 Cent at his (musical) peak, and served as president of G-Unit Records, before taking the helm as VP of A&R at Def Jam in 2010. Currently working as an executive at Epic Records, he is currently managing Tedy.

“That’s like a big brother to me,” Tedy says of working with the storied executive. “We got a great relationship, he’s a top 5 A&R in the game, you know what I mean? So sending him records and getting his opinion is always good.

“He’s was a businessman,” he adds. “We’ve been working hard together,” he notes.

His latest release, “Ominous,” is a song that is setting the stage for his upcoming project. “My producer [Kill] and I locked in the studio and ade that beat together,”’he explains. “I just had some inspiration a couple of days after … it’s a storytelling vibe about a couple of people I know.”

 
He cautions not to get too comfortable with the vibe of “Ominous,” as he’s definitely diversifying his vibe. “I don’t really have a title for it yet … I’m kinda keeping it under wraps,” he says of the LP. “I’ve been making a bunch of records, and hopefully around October I can get this [album] out.

“There’s going to be different types of things,” he explains. “I mean, it’s going to be lifestyle, it’s going to be storytelling … I’m trying to make new, different types of records. I’ve just been making a bunch of songs and they all sound a little different, but I’m going to wait til everything sonically go together.”

One producer he’s worked with is Harlem’s own V-Don — who we’ve chatted with in the past. His sound is quite dark, but Tedy is clear that he is trying to brighten things up this time around.

Related: Read our V-Don interview, here.

“I don’t want to do something so dark because my last project was a little dark … I was kind of in a dark place for it,” he says. “I don’t even want to put it in a box right now because I’ve been making so many records.“

Tedy has lots lined up, including a host of new videos that will line up with the release of the new project. Ultimately, he just wants this album to be an enduring, timeless piece of art.

“I just want to be the best,” he exclaims without hesitation. “I want people to love it. I want it to be a classic, you know what I mean?”

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interview

Koncept Talks Korea & Premieres New Video For “Never Again”

The Queens MC flipped a two-week tour into a two-year odyssey of success

It’s all about trusting the journey because sometimes following your gut can take you into unexpected territory. Just ask Queens (New York) rapper Koncept — one-time Fat Beats employee and former member of the Brown Bag All Stars. He’d built a bankable brand as a solo act, blazing from the onset of his debut LP back at the top of 2012. Having worked his J57 collaborative project The Fuel and having just about wrapped his next LP (which would become 14 Hours Ahead), he set off on a short tour in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. That was almost two years ago, and Kon has finally made his return to New York City after what became an unexpected odyssey of overseas fame.

RELATED: Read Our 2015 Interview With Koncept [Released In Support Of The Fuel]

“I was only supposed to be there for two weeks … the tour got extended,” he reveals to AAHH. “I ended up partnering with Sony Music [Asia], and it was a domino effect into a bunch of things.” The label made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, but as they agreed to release his 14 Hours Ahead LP, the deal required him to stick around indefinitely. “They said they wanted me to stay over there for the rollout of the album, so I could be face to face in the country, play shows, promote my brand and the album.”

The LP’s success led to a consistent touring schedule. “I tried to come back a few times,” he notes. Each time he attempted to return, bookings would pile one, forcing him to abandon the plans. “This time I was straight up, like, ‘all right, I’m going to go back to New York. I’m going to fly out June 20th. Like there are no bookings after June 15th, you know what I mean?'”

“I just been nonstop,” he continues. “I just finished this new album, and I want to drop these news videos I have … but I just [needed to] regroup and take a little rest, you know what I mean? Chill for a little bit and then get back into everything.” The first of these new videos — there are five in total — “Never Again” is premiering right here on AAHH. “It’s just about not making the same mistakes and learning from your experiences,” he says of the track, “just getting rid of all of the negative things in your life, from relationships to friendships, etc.”

 
Ultimately, he credits his time in Korea with helping him break ground that merely networking online wouldn’t have allowed — which is a big takeaway for any artist considering touring overseas. “I’m constantly booked … I play three shows a week. There’s a real connection with the people, the fans, and with the industry as a whole out there.” Though he’d already tasted some initial success stateside, the same success that led him to Korea in the first place, what’s he’s built over there has been next level. “Going out there and just being the unicorn, just being different, instantly people gravitated towards it.” On top of just a hectic live schedule, he also landed numerous print magazine placements and even commercial placements — notably appearing in Spyder clothing ads that appeared across Asia in movie theatres.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s sparked a whole new wave of creativity for Koncept. “It’s dope because it’s in a different place is just really inspiring. You know what I mean? Walking outside every day and just seeing things that I’m not used to, meeting different people … it’s a whole other inspiration.” As he explains, the outlook has given his music an even more unique vibe than it already had. “I’m not to trying to be pigeonholed as a New York rapper … there’s a big world out here. I’m trying to be a fucking a global artist, you know, global musician.”

14 Days Ahead
is available everywhere.

 

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interview, Interviews

Get to Know London Rapper: Kid Bookie

“Energy Transcends” was the phrase that stuck with me after an insightful conversation with the highly motivated, London based rapper:…

“Energy Transcends” was the phrase that stuck with me after an insightful conversation with the highly motivated, London based rapper: Kid Bookie.

After watching Bookie’s music video for the single “Who’s Next,” I became intrigued by the UK artist. The image that stood out to me from that video was of a sign reading: “you’ve been brainwashed into liking trash,” because immediately after showing it, he spits bars that would make any Soundcloud rapper terrified. Kid Bookie proved to me in six seconds that he had a deep respect for lyricism in Hip Hop, and that he was not afraid to voice his opinions towards those who mishandle it. After watching a few more of his videos I learned that Books had recently toured with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. This was truly icing on the cake. So I called him up.

The first thing I noticed about Bookie was how hungry he is to be heard. This man truly cares about his art and he told me how appreciative he was that I recognized his talent. Immediately I asked him about his quote from the “Who’s Next” video: “you’ve been brainwashed into liking trash.” And his answer clarified how deeply involved with Hip Hop he truly is.

Books said that “Even if you’re not rapping, but you have an element of musicality because you studied music, and you know what goes in a beat, that shows me that you care. And people don’t care these days, but people who do care, you find them. You have to study your predecessors.”

 
This is pretty much an extension of the J. Cole/Lil Pump conversation, where people are acknowledging the increasing gap between “clout” rappers and true lyrical artists. But Bookie had no malice for these types of “rappers” in his statement. As he put it: people will find those who put blood, sweat, and tears into their music.

When I asked about the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony tour I was impressed to learn that the group actually reached out to Bookie first. The London MC modestly said that the OG’s respect him, despite being relatively underground. And it was clear the respect went both ways. Bookie described growing up watching his father rap, and hearing Grime artists all around him in. But he made it clear that he is not a Grime rapper, or fully aligned with London’s underground scene. The MC told me that he resonated more with artists like XXXTentacion and those with an aggressive, artistic energy about them. When Bookie and I previewed a track he had been working on I could spot the influence. With a combination of fast paced spitting, melodic singing, and super aggressive scream-rap, it became apparent that the young MC has a strong portfolio in the making.

When I asked Bookie who inspired him growing up, he told me that before he even picked up a rap CD, he listened to rock. System of a Down, Slipknot, Korn, and Blink 182 were just a few of the bands the MC said influenced his music. We spoke about the importance of the rock/rap relationship and how Hip Hop has adopted the energy that was introduced in the 80’s and 90’s via the punk scene. London was arguably at the forefront of this scene, and Bookie proves he is a product of this through the energy he puts out. As I listened to his upcoming tape “Publish THIS” I could hear the rock influence; but it’s his variety of flow, subject matter, and carefully calculated lyricism that makes it an airtight project.

My conversation with Kid Bookie gave me a promising hope that there are budding MC’s out there preserving Hip Hop’s gritty, lyrical roots. With the self-proclaimed underground album: “Publish THIS” scheduled to drop May 31st, Bookie wants you to know before he’s dead, no matter how early or late it be, he will change the world through his music.

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interview, Interviews, New Music

Daniel Najar Is In It For The Love

Growing up as a Jehovah Witnesses, Hip Hop’s artist Daniel Najar journey began while going door to door one weekend…

Growing up as a Jehovah Witnesses, Hip Hop’s artist Daniel Najar journey began while going door to door one weekend with his family. “One day a lady let us into her house, and she was explaining to the older guy I was with that her son was rebellious and listened to rap,” he tells AAHH. “Her son shortly came out of his room, and I could hear ‘The Real Slim Shady’ by Eminem in the background.”

His fascination with Eminem — and The Marshall Mathers LP — led him to explore the catalogs of multiple artists, before getting into the game himself. “I ended up having a very crazy life of my own, and at the age of 24 I began to take rapping seriously, pursuing a career in music,” he says. 

“I feel that I can add some value into Hip Hop … I look forward to sharing my life story with the world,” he continues.

“I look for beats that match my emotions or how I’m feeling at the current time,” he says of his deeply personal approach to creating music. “I spend hours every week looking through beats to find something that gets me inspired and motivated to write.”

Currently, he’s working on a project called On The Rise. “I’ve released all the tracks I’ve finished to my Youtube Channel and all the streaming sites,” he noted.

“Everyone in the world has a layer to them you will never see,” he explains. “When you create music you are forced to reveal the things you would normally never share with anyone … making music is extremely personal and puts you in a vulnerable position.”

“I want to show people if they believe in themselves anything is possible,” he shares as a noble goal in the industry. He’s definitely in it for the love — you can’t hate on that!

Check him out, below.

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