Hi L*A*W and a hearty welcome to Vents Magazine! Before we get started, how have you been during these scary, momentous and historic times? 

I’ve been blessed, quarantined and just staying ready as continuing to grow as an artist and person.

Let’s talk a little bit about your beyond brilliant Tha Planet 12 Live Sessions Vol. 1. This is a genuinely live and in the moment album, with ninety percent of this sweet wax devoted to live performances. What inspired this concept ?

To be honest, I just wanted to put out more product to keep my fans interested after they was loving on my first album “Tha Planet 12 Syndrome” but at the same time, I also wanted fans who hadn’t been to a show to hear what I sound like live especially in a industry where most artists can’t sing live or rely on stems & tracks.

What distinguishes a simply competent live album from a brilliant one? I’m thinking now of such classics as Al Green’s Tokyo album, Sam Cooke’s Harlem Square Club LP and – yes, I’ll say it – Tha Planet Live Sessions Vol. 1.?

Wowwwwww ! thank you sooooo much and extra thanks for putting in great company especially since Al was a HUGE influence on me. It’s about CARE QUALITY as a producer and not just throwing shit together. Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Gratitude”, KISS “Alive”, Frampton Comes Alive, The Jacksons “Live”,  & The Temptations “Live in London” are among my top favorite live albums for this reason.

Are you a musician who lives for a live audience, or do you prefer the studio process?

Both !!! record in the studio and then put it to the test on stage to see what they digging.

Speaking of live performances and touring, there’s no way around the subject of the coronavirus. How has this global pandemic affected your touring schedule?

Greatly. Most of my shows for this year has been postponed, cancelled or pushed to next year adding on to what I already had booked.

During these trying times, how do you keep the momentum going with your work?

Staying creative and inspired. I’m from the streets of Brooklyn LOL. Aint no time to sit around and wallow. It’s time to stay ready on all cylinders so that when the gates open back up, we ready to kick ass.

Do you have to think on a different level in how best to reach and communicate with your fans, especially right now?

Oh of course. It doesn’t matter what style of music you do but in presentation form, you have to keep up with the times in terms of platforms & technology so if one is not computer or tech savvy may want to start paying attention. Knowledge is power.

What can you tell us about your upcoming Mixtape, Red Catastrophe?

Red Catastrophe is one of my MANY nicknames especially on my rap side because they said the way I used to battle rap, all I saw was red because go for the jugular. This mixtape represents that and is 100% pure Hip-Hop showing the Real MC side of me for those who love rap in its purest form over my favorite instrumentals.

When does Red Catastrophe drop? Do we have a confirmed release date yet?

Looking for mid-July plus there may be some guest appearances from my big bros Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids On The Block & the legendary Jaz-0.

You hail from amazing musical pedigree: You are the grandson of the Great Blues legend, Sam “Bluzman” Taylor as well as the nephew of Gospel Music Guru and Pioneer Professor Charles Taylor. Has that ever put any pressure on you as far as attempting to not only honor your family through your music, but also in attempting to step out of a huge shadow and be your own man?

To be honest, No because my skill level at such an early age made me confident to represent the family name so once I got tired of being called Sam’s grandson, I made my move back to NYC to fully establish EVERYTHING I was in addition to my favorite.

 You worked with the amazing chanteuse, Amy Winehouse. What was she like as a musician and how would you quantify your experience of collaborating with her?

Incredible! mainly because the moment I heard her and her sound, I knew I had to work with her. Amy knew her music and was solid in her vision and unapologetic manner.

Is there something in the music industry that you’ve not as of yet had the opportunity to do that you may be interested in pursuing?

Oh yeah. Aiming to do some work with my very good friend Lionel Richie as well as wanting to work my #2 overall idol Stevie Wonder.

Musically, who has inspired you as a person and as a musician?

Sooooo many to name but everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Chaka Khan, The Isley Brothers, The Police, Chicago, Prince, Metallica, Van Halen, New Edition, U2, LL Cool J, N.W.A, Miles Davis, George Michael, Donna Summer, Jamiroquai, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones & Big Daddy Kane.

 Your music has a real world feel about it, incorporating so many different and eclectic styles into your own thing. How do you balance and find common ground between something as disparate as Country and Jazz? And could there be a lesson for humanity in the very balance you achieve with your music?

I simply just be all that I am with no apologies. I’m a Brooklyn hood boy who loves all kinds of music thanks to my famous family being my Julliard school for music which allowed me to get into everything and not be limited by my main roots which are Gospel, R&B, Blues, Funk & Rock N Roll so that makes that balance easy while expanding on my love of Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop & Country. That is the definition of humanity because music is the universal language. Madonna said it best: Music makes the people come together. If Rick James & Neil Young could be in the same band, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Final (Silly) Question: You’re stranded on a deserted island. While awaiting rescue, what is the one album and the one film you have with you?

Without question, the album would be New Edition’s Home Again & the movie would be Harlem Nights.

About Ryan Vandergriff

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