As CEO of the Brooklyn-based Creative Juices Music label, IDE wears many hats. Engineer, producer, and even artist. He’s already independently released three full-length projects, including his last project, Ideology, a five-year labor of love that featured names like Ill Bill, UG of Cella Dwellas fame, The Outsidaz (Pacewon, Yah Yah, Young Zee), former Arsonists member Jise, Maylay.

Now, IDE is following up the critical success with his latest project, Breathe Easy. He stopped by AAHIPHOP to chat about the LP, his background in the game, and more. Check the interview below.

So IDE, how’d you get into the game?

Ive always been into music, but I started collecting vinyl when I was 12. Collecting records, turntables, setting up old busted stereo systems from the 70s-80s. That sparked the interest. When I got my first mixer that had a built in sampler — and I got a taste for sampling — I was obsessed.

Who were your influences?

Influences are many, but I would always credit DJ Muggs, Rza, and Premiere for actually dictating the sound that (to me) was undeniably dope. As far as emcees: Redman, Ghostface Killah, Gravediggaz, Big L, B-Real, and Psycho Realm. Also, a lot of the underground NYC artists from the late 90s (The Rawkus, Fondle Em’ era). I collected records so that I could start taking inspiration from genres outside of hip hop.

So tell us all about Breathe Easy. What else have you been working on?

Well, it’s produced by Lucky Loopiano. We worked with some of the best engineers, and mastering engineers on this project — and it shows. The album has no features, and is very much a concept album. It’s very visual, full of tongue twisted lyrics and gritty hard hitting boom bap. I’m also about to release Portals, The solo album I produced for UG (Cella Dwellas). That’s getting followed up by a group project with Jise One (Arsonists), and Alucard called Defiant 3. It’s a busy year.

How would I describe IDE so someone who hasn’t heard you?

I would describe the sound as authentic, honest, creative, and dramatic. It’s music with personality, in a time where everyone mimics each other. It’s rugged, complex and sincere.

So, what are you goals in the game?

My goals are simple, to keep doing what I’m doing. Continue to generate income so I can continue to release music. Getting more opportunities to travel the world and meet interesting people. I would like to expand on what I’m doing of course. Be able to open an official Creative Juices recording studio. There’s a lot of potential yet to be fully maximized, but everything is going according to plan. Getting more involved in soundtracking movies is something I can see myself working towards as well.

What’s the takeaway from IDE as an artist?

I want people to take away an experience. Hip Hop on a mainstream scale is letting the culture down. It’s dumbing down, oversimplifying, and losing its edge. Hip Hop is a rebellious street music. It has always been a voice for the people who seek truth and understanding. I want to provide that for the listener. Music is capable of transcending feeling. If Aretha Franklin wrote a song about love while crying. She has the power to make the listener understand and relate to that feeling so much, that they get goose bumps and cry themselves. I don’t set out to make anyone cry, but I do set out to convey feeling. To share the experience, I have had. I don’t glorify my existence in the majority of my content. I talk about loss, set back, and discouragement. These are things that all of us relate to. I hope people can find meaning in my struggles, and feel empowered when listening.

Does aligning with a major label matter to you at this stage?

Indi or major, I just want to make music. Ive been blessed to have all the opportunities I need on an independent scale without the corporate control of a large label. I’m all for creative integrity. In 2016, with a strong independent label like Creative Juices Music behind me, I have what I need and the capability to do what I want without anyone else imposing their ideas. I’m content with that, but if something was to present itself, I never rule anything out. I just see myself being involved from a grassroots level for the majority of my career.