“We’re trying to put Ohio back on the map musically…hip-hop wise.”
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was an evening early last month when I received a cold-call — if you will — from an Ohio-based rapper named Vice Souletric. A quick peruse of his SoundCloud revealed an impressive amount of quality material and features, which I directly correlate with cosigns. Ones that immediately jumped out at me were “Respect The Legends,” produced by the iconic 9th Wonder, “Stayin’ Out The Way,” featuring the BK rapper Skyzoo, and “Return Of The Blackman,” featuring Talib Kweli. Alongside his partner in rhyme, G.Huff, the two have formed an on-wax chemistry similar to Cuban Linx-era Ghostface and Raekwon. With premieres on platforms like Okayplayer, and most recently Revolt, the two seem to be making a tonne of moves at an accelerated rate.
Aside from rap, Vice is also an accomplished [visual] artist and producer. The latter he attributes to sheer necessity; “I couldn’t find anybody who made the type of beats that I like, so I learned how to make beats myself. Being from Ohio, it’s crazy because a lot of cats around here aren’t necessarily on that East Coast boom bap type of feel, but that’s what I like, so I had to teach myself how to make type of beats.” His cover artwork also led to him forming a relationship with producer Pete Rock, whom he’s considered a mentor over the past 3-4 years. With their biggest release yet, Vice and Huff [finally] released a song produced by Chocolate Boy Wonder, “Bills,” with a visual expected to follow shortly.
With two knocking mixtapes under his belt, and tonnes of exciting things in the pipeline, I decided to take some time to sit with Vice and learn more about his process, his music, and more. Check out the new song, “Bills,” and the interview below.
One thing that stuck out when I went through your stuff is that you had some pretty heavy features. Give me a sense of how you got involved with some of these people?
Over the last two years, I dropped two projects. One was an EP called Vice for President. On there, I was able to work with Guilty Simpson and Reks from Boston. Then this last project, Vice for President 2, was a full-length EP. I was able to work with Kweli, Skyzoo, 9th Wonder, and Rapper Big Pooh. A lot of times people do ask me a lot, like “Wow, how did you get to work with these cats?” It’s nothing more than stepping to these cats in a business manner — keeping it completely professional. Handling my business the way that they want to handle it. To be honest with you, I’m not personally friends with any of these cats; I had to hit up their management. I had to hit them up directly to see what they were talking about and just had to network. If I had to break off some bread, I did that; in some cases, I didn’t have to do that. But, at the end of the day, it’s just about building the best mutual respect, and I think all those cats have respect for me. I’ve got respect for them.
Did they give you feedback on the joints?
Oh yeah, definitely. All the cats that I worked with gave me feedback. One of the cats that I collaborated with that I didn’t have direct contact with was 9th Wonder, though. I collaborated with King Magnetic on that track, and he has a direct relationship with 9th. So as far as that beat, he pretty much worked with 9th on that, but as far as everybody else, I heard back from them, and they gave me good feedback. They liked the tracks; and you know, a lot of times with these cats, it doesn’t matter what the terms are, they’re not going to be a part of something that they’re not feeling.
Your latest joint on Vevo with Hi-Tek — how did that come together?
With that situation, that track is part of G.Huff’s album, and I’m featured on the song. We had to go [hard] for the longest, with us being from Ohio, to be able to reach out to Hi-Tek, and it was just something where we reached out to him on Facebook. We presented our music to him; we told him who we are, what we were trying to do, and it took a while — because Hi-Tek isn’t a cat that just works with anybody. So it took a while to crack that nut, but he eventually responded back to us like, “Yeah, let’s work,” and he sent us a few beats. It was very hard to pick the one beat that we wanted to use, but you know, we’re happy with it, and he liked the song. Like after the video came out and everything, he hit us up; he gave us our blessing, like “Yeah, that’s dope.” We intend on doing some more work with Hi-Tek in the future.
Alright, so you guys are indie right now, yeah?
We’re indie, man. Everything. It’s like I’m a producer, I naturally write my music, I’m a graphic designer, I do all my covers, websites, all of that stuff, man. Like, we’re pretty much a one stop shop. We take care of all of our business because, one, you need to be able to do that, just to cut costs, because it’s very expensive trying to do music. Two, it gives you more leverage when you’re trying to network and work with other people — being able to wear more hats. So yeah, we’re completely indie. We would like to get signed, that would be ideal, but right now we’re indie, and we’re happy with our position.
Have you had any interest from labels? Have you talked to labels?
We’re just in the beginning stages. To be honest with you, we’ve been doing it for a while, but just over like the last year and a half, people have been starting to take notice of what we’ve been doing. We buckled down and started releasing these projects that we put a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of resources into. But we are getting more interest by the day from different A&Rs, we’re connecting with a lot of different people in the industry, and they’re looking at us. As of right now, we haven’t had a contract pushed in our face yet, but with the moves that we’ve made, and a couple of things we have in the works, we’re expecting something to pop by the end of 2016, for sure.
Who are some of the artists that maybe you haven’t worked with yet, or that you wanted to get on this project, that you’re going to try to get in the future?
Well, one is Pete Rock. Like I have a joint on Vice President 2 called ‘Irap’, and like I know him personally — and I want him to rap on the song. Like I didn’t even want a beat, I just wanted him to rap, because the song is all about being a producer and an MC, so I thought it would be great to have him on it. It wasn’t able to go down because he was really busy working on this project he has coming out with Smoke Dza. But actually, Huff and I were just down there this past weekend, and we hooked up with him, and we got a beat from him. We’re going to be releasing a joint with Pete Rock real soon. It’s gonna be crazy; it’s gonna be nuts, man. [Editor’s Note: The song has since been released, it’s called “Bills.”]
You’ve been friends with him for quite a while, and you consider him sort of a mentor. Maybe talk a little bit about that relationship.
I would say maybe for like the last four or five years; he’s a real cool cat. Like, he’s a cat that interacts with people via social media, so we’ve always interacted online, and actually like I said, I do graphic design, so I did a cover for him. If you remember the project that he did with Camp Lo
maybe about two or three years ago, he had like this cartoon type cover – I did that. I’m the one that did that joint, so that’s sort of how we linked. It was real crazy. He hit me up in the middle of the night, dude. He hit me up, because he got my number from Huff, and he hit me up in the middle of the night with like 20 text messages. I wake up to all these messages from Pete Rock, talking about, “Yo, I need a cover.” So I did the cover man, and ever since then we kept in contact. You know we talk sports, we talk hoops; we talk music every once in a while. He has a mutual respect for us, but we never try to be too thirsty with him, and like beg him for beats, this that and the other. Everything has to happen in its own time, and you know, now it’s time, so we about to get it cracking.
So what’s next? What’s the next project we can look out for?
What I’m working on now is an instrumental album. Because I put out the two projects that I was rapping on, and I just want to showcase like the beats, and let people know like how serious I am, and how into the production I am, and how detailed I am with it. So that’s the next thing coming out, that’s probably going to be dropping within the next two months, and it’s not going to be throwaway beats either. Like I already told my boys in my crew, “Y’all gonna be pissed when y’all hear some of the beats I put on this because I’m putting out heat.” Because, no matter what you release, you’ve always got to put your best foot forward, and I want people to take me seriously as a producer as well, so that’s the next thing that’s coming out.
Any last words, or anything else you’d like to leave on the blog?
Pretty much, man, just check out Vice for President 2, and check me out on vicesworld.com — that’s my website. You can find all my social media up there. We are just trying to represent Ohio, man. Like this is a big year for Ohio, but we’re trying to put Ohio back on the map musically, hip-hop wise, so by the end of 2016 man, we’re just gonna try to be in the position that we want to be in.