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INTERVIEW: QUEENS BASED RAPPER FOCUS

How have you been?

I’ve been great. Just taking everything day to day but everything is all good.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Ride For Me”?

I would define “Ride For Me” as uniqueness in a conformist Hip-Hop landscape. A lot of Hip-Hop artists are following a lot of the trendy formulas but my shit is completely different but still holds its roots in Hip-Hop. I’m actually really proud of that regardless of any critique. There are dimensions to this track whether its the street poetry delivery, the melodic hook, the double-time flows, the content, the vibe, just everything.  I love everything about it from the production, the video, the lyrics, and the features. I feel like the song along with the video is just an amazing piece of artistry.

“Ride For Me” is actually the first song I wrote off this album. The beat by guy Smoking Indoors really caught my ear. I wanted to do something unique that fit the vibe of the beat. I’m happy with how the song and video came out.

Did any event inspire you to write this song?

I don’t think it was one specific event that inspired it. I think it was a host of variables. I was given a bunch of beats from my bro Smoking Indoors, but when I first heard the  “Ride for Me” instrumental I thought it was just so dope that it was just stripped down to the minimal production. In my head, the production seemed really ambient and cinematic. I felt like it gave me an opportunity to try different flows and paint a picture of my headspace in an unorthodox pocket of the beat but still touch on the topic that was true to me and my journey with music and life.

The single comes off your new album Love Will Get You Killed – what’s the story behind the title?

The story is that the music on the project created the title, to be honest. We made a bunch of songs before we actually cut it down to the last few songs we decided was for the project. Initially, we were in the process of making a sequel to my project DUI (Discourse Under Influence), but the title “Love Will Get You Killed” was actually a lyric I said in one of the songs. It just resonated with us so we ran with it. It seemed so fitting given the content of the music and the direction we wanted to go. I love that title because it’s such a clear direct statement and it seems so Trill to me.

How was the recording and writing process?

The recording and writing process of this project was far different than usual but very organic. I think if you listen to all of my work you can kind of hear the difference a bit. When we started the process of creating this project it was almost like a philosophy class amongst myself and my team. I would take trips to London or Smoking Indoors would come to NYC and we would get a hotel, set up the mic and work. Before we would start recording we would all talk about life and where we were at with goals, business, relationships, family, and a host of other topics while Smoking Indoors would just be working on a beat or playing some stuff he previously put together. I would randomly just say turn the mic on and let me record and just go in with whatever was in my head or heart based on the conversation. This process was new to me but effective because it helped create the direction of the music. We did this a lot and honestly, some came out good and some weren’t all that great but that is apart of making dope shit. The large majority of the creative process was this freestyle-esque/free writing kind of thing but some songs i actually sat down and wrote. The process allowed me to mess with my singing a bit and even spoken word at times. It was a fun challenge, but I think it just strengthened my artist skill set at worst. I’ll probably try to challenge myself in different ways the next project.

What role does NYC play in your writing?

It plays a huge role for me because its the birthplace of Hip-Hop culture. NYC is home but Queens NY specifically. If you really listen to my music you can tell I was influenced by East Coast Hip-Hop without a question. The majority of my favorite rappers are from NY. I think that heavily influenced my understanding and approach to Hip-Hop. NY also helped me gain a lot of confidence in my writing and performing. I would do a lot of performances and showcases when I was younger and it would be crazy to me how people in the crowd would react. Most people wouldn’t even cheer or bob their head for a person even if they liked the music. That blank stare can make any novice artist wild nervous when they are on stage. A lot New Yorkers can definitely be “too cool” sometimes but it just made me stronger because I got to the point where I didn’t care what people thought as long as I knew I was killing it. So I just made sure when I created songs, especially ones that i want to perform, I have to make sure I impress myself before I worry about impressing others.

What aspect of love did you get to explore on this record?

I didn’t go into this project with the idea of making an album about love but that is just how it came out. I really feel the album is more about the idea that too much of anything is not good for you even in the case of something as great as love for your counterpart, friends, and family.  There are songs like “Hope” that discuss the idea of wanting to be with someone but having no control over the destiny of the relationship. Or a song like “Space” that discusses the idea that being up under the person you love all the time may not lead to the best results when it comes to love because a lot of people need personal time as well. Even the idea of losing control of your feelings when engaging people you love is also touched on in the song “Moments”. There is a lot within the project, but I will leave that up to the listener to digest the rest.

Any plans to hit the road?

My manager and team are working on a mini-tour for later this year. Probably keep it on the East Coast and hit a few major cities. I feel I’m ready to open for a major on tour so patiently waiting for that opportunity.

What else is happening next in Focus The Truth´s world?

I’m really just trying to decide what the next video is. We are really leaning toward shooting a dope video for “Microphone Murder” which is definitely a fan favorite. The song has got wild love and is mentioned by nearly every person who listens to the album. I’m working on a lot of new music so 2018 should be a good year for all of my real supporters. I’m just trying to stay true to what I do and make sure all of my content output remains classic in my eyes. Also, I really want to work with Styles P and Jadakiss from the Lox. I figure I might as well put that out into the universe in case anyone reading this can make it happen because that would be a dream come true. Someone tell The Lox I’m looking for them. Thanks in advance.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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