[Intro Music – Black Native, Black Confederate]
[Ryan Weber] Welcome to 10-Minute Tech Comm. This is Ryan Weber from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Our opening music today is “Black Confederate”, a track from Black Native, a rapper from Alabama who now resides in Maryland. He’ll be my guest in the second half of the show, but first I’d like to introduce our first guest.
[Victor Del Hierro] What up tho? What it do? My name is Victor Del Hierro. I’m an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, El Paso and my research is focused on hip hop, tech comm, and migration.
[Weber] I invited Victor on the podcast to talk about his recent article, “DJs, Playlist, and Community: Imagining Communication Designed through Hip Hop,” which was published last Fall in Communication Design Quarterly. The article connects the practices of DJs, hip hop communities, and technical communication, especially as their exemplified in the legacy of Houston artist, DJ Screw. Since so few people have put together these three things, DJs, hip hop, and technical communication, I was really excited to get Victor’s take on it. I hope you enjoy it.
[Weber] Welcome to the podcast Victor. I’m really excited to talk with you about hip hop and tech comm today, which are two things that don’t get connected a lot. So, I’m really excited to talk about their connections, and I guess we’ll just start there. You wrote a new article that connects DJ and hip hop practices with technical communication. So, how do these two things overlap?
[Del Hierro] For me, the-the DJ is the best connecting point because DJs live in this kind of dual place of contact consumption and production, right? So, they have these performances and everything that goes into these performances is the practice of listening and the practice of understanding sort of their text and their records and then they sort of transfer that into something that somebody else is not going to consume and listen to, and so I think being in that in between space kind of exemplifies what we do as technical communicators. And I think that how we often find ourselves, as sort of the mediators of communication, but I think hip hop broadly is a really sort of exciting and important site to look at because of this sort of active performance but there’s also the ability to reflect on it, right? So, we can look at what people are doing in the moment to sort of find examples how to do things but at the same time, the conversations that arise out of hip hop, the ability to sort of reflect on those things, and how all those, you know things that happen at events, and then your sort of participation in them influences what’s going to happen at the next event. So, I think there’s this really cool trade off of learning and constant sort of generation of knowledge building that I think is exciting and a good place to look at for hip hop and for tech comm. I think just kind of focusing on the duality of the DJ, I think is something that we can really kind of build off of and kind of take forward.
[Weber] The DJ kind of occupies the space between text and audiences in a way that technical communicators do as well. Is that sort of the point that you’re making?
[Del Hierro] Yeah. I think it’s just kind of another example. What I think the DJ brings to that kind of conversation, is the relationship that they have to an audience, right? And it’s built on call and response, thinking about how that might impact our work or thinking about how that might impact how we create relationships or how we might emphasize their relationship, right? That ends up being also part of the heart of the DJ performance, right? He or she is continuously listening and reacting and then thinking about where they might insert new voices, insert new, you know amazing new artists, new songs, or maybe looking at a sample, and then turning that sample and letting people know where that’s from. I think that can translate to how we might want to sort of make some interventions as to communicators, knowing that we always have that ability and that responsibility to do those kind of things. That helps, I think, take whatever we’re doing and maybe moving it to a next step, right? So, we’re not sort of this just this passive median in between sort of communication but there’s-we do have some agency there. And I think the hip hop DJ sort of manifest that and then you think about like the other side of having to do all this work and the technical skill of a DJ, right? The DJ has got to build his whole sound system, he’s got to know how the whole thing works and then if something doesn’t go right, he’s got to know how to improvise, you know in this day and age where we have, you know people who still do it the traditional way with turntables, but there’s also now all these different kinds of digital interfaces for DJ’ing. Having to know how all that stuff works, being able to utilize it, but always being able to go back to the concrete sort of hardware, turntables and seeing how these interact and then one of my favorite things about it, is for DJs playing a show and somebody wants-really wants to play a song, right? They can always figure out an audio jack that can let them sort of pull it off of their phone, right? Not only creating documents through text but also the technical skill that goes into it and I think that one of the things that really impress me, I think about learning more about DJ Screw, is he was really, really a strong DJ, and he was really committed to his craft as a DJ. And so, I think what he was able to do as a DJ really influenced and impacted what he was able to do for the Houston community. And I think finding examples of having skillset, or I’d really like to do these different types of text, and I’m really good at making things on InDesign or whatever, learning how to sort of channel those skills and applying it to a space or company or nonprofit, or whatever you’re working, right? Being able to sort of understand how you might be able to take the skills that you’re really good at and applying it to the spaces that you’re working, I think that’s something that we really see that come out of DJs and looking at it from a tech comm perspective.
[Weber] You know, that’s really interesting because it sounds like what’s going on here is you’ve got DJs who through this call and response, are essentially getting user feedback if you want to phrase (chuckle) it that way. Yeah, you’ve got all this repurposing of text, you know getting these sound clips and making something new out of them and then kind of this user generated content, right? Because you know when someone brings their song and play it, a DJ can play this user generated content and then sort of the technical part of being a technical communicator, setting up this sophisticated sound system. So, you’ve got all these elements of tech comm it sounds like.
[Del Hierro] Yeah, exactly.
[Weber] Yeah and so you mentioned DJ Screw and your article is about DJ Screw, and for those who aren’t really familiar with him, can you just tell us a little bit about him and why you chose to focus on him?
[Del Hierro] DJ Screw aka Robert Earl Davis, Jr, rest in peace, originally from Smithville, Texas. Moved down to Houston when he was in junior high. He was a DJ out of Houston between 1990 and 2001, who is sort of credited with being the originator of the screwed and chopped style, and this is significant because this kind of style became what was now the signature sound out of Houston, right? Houston’s this major city, it’s a major city in the South where at the time when DJ Screw got to Houston and got started and started making tapes, there wasn’t a lot of representation of Houston Rappers in hip hop in general. There was a record label, Rap-a-Lot records and there was the Geto Boys, but they were sort of representative of sort of a larger Houston sound or voice. There wasn’t a lot of sort of sounds that was more natural to Houston or at least more coming out of Houston, right? The beats from those early records were still heavily influenced by the east coast sound in hip hop. So, when DJ Screw came around and started making these tapes and slowing them down, it really connected well with the community in Houston. He had learned about slowing down music from another DJ, Darryl Scott, who was in the Houston club scene, sort of this station that Screw did was adding his DJ skills and his particular understanding how to DJ and scratches and the cross fading and sort of all these different techniques and applying it to that slowed down sound, would kind of get its name from hearing very ‘echoey’ sound, so he would have at least two turn tables going and he’d put the same record on them and he would play them about one beat behind them. So, he slowed them down and then echoed certain words or emphasized certain phrases or add some scratches. At the height of DJ Screw’s powers, he was probably working with at least four turntables at one time because he was live recording all his mixtapes and so I think the amazing thing about his mixtapes is they are all by performances. So, I think they represent a really interesting part of hip hop culture that we say as manifesting in Houston in the way that it did. It originally was not the intention to focus on DJ Screw. I really wanted to do a project that emphasized hip hop’s ability to grow and to move into different spaces, right? We have this global culture that is really only becomes global because people can make it their own but what drew me to Houston was that you have this culture that’s covered everywhere but in Houston people only want to listen to this one Houston sound and I felt like how could you be so insular when you have this range of-.
[Weber] Right, all of this stuff to listen to, yeah.
[Del Hierro] Yeah and they were listening to it but they just wanted to hear it from DJ Screw’s turntables and I think sort of looking at what that meant and why that was happening. I think is sort of at the heart of the project, you know once I started learning and reading and researching, I realized how influential and instrumental DJ Screw was at the center of this, right? And if you think about the history of hip hop and where it kind of gets started at there are three DJs at the center of the history of hip hop in New York City. So, I think the DJ sort of plays a really important role in helping sort of grow communities and cultures and I think that really is what made me want to focus more on DJ Screw and then sort of you read about him and you hear about how he was really personable person. There are stories of he’d be talking to someone and somebody would come up and try to interrupt them, he would stop them and be like, ‘Tm talking to this guy right now. Happy to talk with you in a little bit but let me just finish up here,” and so sort of being very respectful, being very open. As his mixtape empire started to grow, he just-he created space for Houston artists and I think all of that is something to think about and incorporate into work in technical communication.
[Weber] He sort of took this sound and made it distinctly Houston in a way and that seems to be what part of your article is about is kind of that, from a tech comm sensibility, he localized this sound. Because one of the things I saw in your article, if this is right, is that he made tapes that people could listen to like on a long commute, right? Because like people in Houston are driving all over the place, so like it’s for Houston, right? It’s not, you know people may not be doing that somewhere else. Can you talk about kind of like how he made this sound localized for this community?
[Del Hierro] The connection to me between accessibility and localization, I think, is really interesting and comes out of this example and so the way that I kind of put it together in the article is that there’s these listening practices that exist in Houston. And then there’s sort of any kind DJ Screw talked about what the chopped and screwed sound was, he would say, ‘T d slow down the records so people could hear things but I also slow them down in a way and I could mix and chop them up so that you could feel them.” And so, there’s sort of two levels of con there or audience is interacting with text here in this kind of way and he’s kind of adapting to them. You mentioned the car stuff and car culture becomes-kind of sort of always existed in Houston but becomes a bigger thing with the screwed and chopped sort of sound for a variety of reasons. Not to mention that you know at some point DJ Screw starts getting requests for shout outs on his tape, right? So, he shouts you out, you play that as you drive by.
[Weber] Right, so people can hear DJ Screw shouting you out, yeah.
[Del Hierro] Yeah and it sounds really good in the car, right? So, now he’s going into the sessions and thinking like, “What records would sound really good in the car right now? What records would sound really good slowed down in the car right now? What records slowed down, sound good in the car and are saying something that I want them to hear?” Right and being able to chop a record up and slow it down and emphasize certain words allows him to sort of say, “I really want you to pay attention to this part of the song. I really want you to pay attention to this lyric. Let me go back and forth and play it over and over again or sort of repeat it a couple of times.” And I think that creates a listening experience that is kind of interactive, is building on call and response, and is not sort of making it a passive experience. Not that sort of listening is ever a passive experience but I think this is sort of a lot more proactive. What DJ Screw is trying to open up accessibility in that kind of way and I think all of these things draw from a local perspective. I mentioned the shout outs but I think one of the other ways that DJ Screw is able to localize is his ability to bring in the very local, local sound of where he was from, right? He was from Third Ward Houston, people talked about what they loved about his tapes and what he was doing, people were on there, they were talking about the streets, the actual literal streets that they lived on, that they could see these things from a very localized perspective. They could start to seem themselves and then he would bring in a lot of the sort of the local language and slang from that area to sort of the tapes and put them on there slow and you know you’re listening to one of DJ Screw’s mixtapes and there’s a T upac song, there’s a Biggie song, there’s a Dr. Dre song and then all of sudden in conversation with that you hearing things about your street. You’re hearing things about your neighborhood, words that you only hear in Houston, right? So, putting these things in conversation together and I think emphasizing that is how he’s able to sort of localize all this content. So, we have like all of these layers of localization that build into the accessibility of it that go from the listening experience to sort of the identification of being able to hear yourself. And I think these are kinds of things that are emphasized in hip hop and I think that we can sort of really start to pay attention to and I think it’s something that being in hip hop sort of teaches you to really listen for specific kinds of languages Just really try to recognize the ways people are already sort of speaking or the ways people are already value certain things in language. I really emphasizing that and looking towards that and building off of that and I think a really big part of that is also respecting sort of where certain language comes from. You know I wouldn’t come into Houston and just be throwing Houston slang around to try to fit in, but ifI heard it I would recognize it an understand like, “Okay this is sort of what this conversation is going for.” You know there’s that sort oflearning to build upon that respect about how certain people communicate or the language that people are using, I think, becomes a really sort of important skill and I think something that becomes refined. Once I was able to, I wouldn’t say necessarily crack the code of Houston slang or any of that, but I think once I was able to pay attention to these localized sort of examples of hip hop in Houston, sort of the data analysis and looking at the tapes and listening and reading, sort of really opened up a lot more of what I was able to sort of understand from things. There’s a-a great archive at the University of Houston, shout out to Julie Grove who’s the curator there and I got to work with a lot and she’s really amazing. But the first time I visited the archive, none of it really made sense and then I sat down and listened to tapes and learned more about Screw and then I went back to the archive and I was like, “Oh so much more of this stuff makes sense.” You know the playlists that appear in my article, I looked at those years ago and I was like, “Oh that’s-I mean these are cool but I don’t really know what to do with them,” right? After sort of figuring out like what these lists really meant and I think sort of seeing them like, this is a moment of collaboration but this is also a moment of DJ Screw connecting with somebody and figuring out what they like and then knowing that he’s going to take that lists of you know 10, 19 songs and turn it into something that was completely distinct from what was on paper, right? What you got on the tape was adding to so many extra layers and had so much more content that was going to satisfy what that person was asking for in his list, but also was going to get some random samples dropped here and there and maybe you know he hadn’t thought about this one record that connects these two other records. And so, I think this the-being able to see that allowed him to sort of make so much more sense of artifacts that had already existed and had already been seen.
[Weber] And one of things you mentioned, a couple of times, is it sounds like DJ Screw and these other DJs have a very reflective communication process. They’re thinking about what they’re doing in the same way that technical communicators might think about what they’re doing by making very conscious and sort of thought out communication decisions. Is that fair to say?
[Del Hierro] Yeah most definitely and I think one of the-one of the big things that I want to emphasize in my work and the ways we talk about hip hop is that everything is incredibly intentional. Is incredibly purposeful. A lot of times hip hop gets understood as being very spontaneous but these people are very good at what they do because they’re constantly practicing and constantly refining their craft. You can practice hip hop on your own but you don’t ever sort of learn more about hip hop without engaging and creating community with other people. So, you know all of that stuff is very intentional and it comes from somewhere there’s definitely a lot of preparing that goes into this kind of work.
[Weber] Well and it seems like it’s been a trend lately, a welcomed trend that tech comm’s is kind of recognizing communication that it hadn’t always paid attention to. As being you know legitimate, purposeful technical communication. You know I’ve seen this with the work on YouTube, beauty tutorials recently, gaming you know there’s a debate about whether cooking instructions are technical communication and this seems, you know another example of-you know it’s not stuff that you know we’re writing user help about how to use Microsoft Word but that (chuckle) the idea of what technical communication is, is broadening I think for the better. Is that part of your purpose of kind of bringing hip hop into the-and DJ practices into this conversation?
[Del Hierro] Yeah, I mean I definitely think so and it’s to kind of open up more opportunities to see themselves in this, in tech comm, and I think bring in more voices. Because I think as you mentioned all those examples are going to bring in more voices and more ideas into the-into a conversation that can only help us produce better technical communication (chuckle).
[Weber] You’ve alluded to some, but what kind oflessons can technical communicators, more traditionally defined, learn from the hip hop and DJ communities?
[Del Hierro] You know I think the heart of it is really learning how to engage meaningfully with your audience and building text or media or in working across modalities with sort of concrete ways to sort of build with communities. It’s an abstract skill that initially comes off as abstract but the more you sort of think about and engage with it becomes a lot easier and I think that is at the heart of what the DJ represents. I think they’re the glue of a community. They have the ability to organize communities. Thinking about how DJ Screw’s relationships, how they pay attention to local context, how they try to make their text accessible, I think that’s really-not just paying attention to those things individually but how to continuously do those things in concert with each other, right? It’s not just localization in one place and access in another place, it’s putting those things together and then building that from sort of user generated, if not sort of input then sort of learning how to get that user generated input without necessarily being so direct, if that’s not always the possibility, right? So, picking up on certain clues, looking at the way certain languages are being used, we don’t always get to sit down and have focused groups with people, which would be great. So, being able to recognize and sort of see things from that broad perspective and channeling that into your work and then doing the best you can with I think your technical skills. I think that there’s still, despite being in that dual space of production and consumption, what makes a DJ is still what they have, sort of what they bring to the table. You know how well they refine their skills. You know what their selection is of songs and tracks. What helps them stand out, right? So, there’s still a lot of yourself that comes out in these things even though you’re always sort of speaking to and drawing from your audience and so I think-I think it’s just another example that we can turn to or that includes sort of all this extra cultural connotations that we might not be able to sort of identify in other kinds of examples of technical communicators. The field is definitely moving in an awesome direction. I think that’s why this piece is out now and I think why I’ve sort of gravitated towards tech comm. So, I think there is a lot of great space to do this kind of work. The fact that we haven’t studied hip hop from a tech comm perspective, also lends a lot to what we can do with hip hop, and I think, I don’t want to say it’s about legitimizing hip hop, but I do want to say that there are certain ways that tech comm thinks about communication that would identify hip hop practitioners to be constantly building knowledge and to be constantly sort of refining strategies for communication, right? There’s got to be something about hip hop that allows for it to grow so globally, and not just globally, and-but very specifically for communities that al-don’t always have a voice, and the fact that hip hop is a space that people feel comfortable inserting their voice and telling their own stories, there’s a lot of power in that. Tech comm is a space where we can really tease that out and why that’s happening, right? And we can think about localization from that perspective and that sort of gives us the language to say like, “Okay these people is doing this localization,” and it’s exciting I think for both tech comm to think about hip hop but I think it’s also exciting for hip hop to think about tech comm.
[Weber] (chuckle) Yeah, t’s a-it’s a great intersection and I’m excited to see what you do next with it. If people want to hear more DJ Screw or any DJ Screw, we didn’t put any in because oflegal issues but if people want to hear him, where can they go?
[Del Hierro] So there’s a couple of things online, there’s streaming services, definitely YouTube has a lot of stuff. A journalist by the name of Lance Scott Walker, he’s a great journalist out of Houston, I think he lives in New York now. He put out a new, I guess, a revised version of his previous book of interviews on Houston artists but he’s got a great article on DJ Screw that includes a lot of audio clips, but also he has a few, sort of just Google Lance Scott Walker, usually his radio show will pop up and he’s always playing DJ Screw stuff. All his stuff is out there. If you want to buy them directly from his shop, that I think his cousin runs now for him, is screweduprecordsandtapes.com, you can buy the mixtapes directly from him. I think there’s at least 300 on there that you can look from. And yeah it’s exciting to be able to keep Screw’s memory alive and I think he touched a lot of people and I think to add to his legacy and to really emphasize him as a community sort of person is exciting and I think-I’m excited for people to go on and listen to him. Because I think it’s the first time you hear it, if you’ve never heard it, it definitely puts you for a little bit of a loop and it’s definitely something different.
[Weber] Awesome. Well hey Victor thanks for being on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
[Del Hierro] No problem. Thank you, Ryan.
[End of Interview]
[Weber] I enjoyed talking with Victor so much, that I wanted to take this topic even further by talking to a current hip hop artist about their work. I found one on Facebook.
[Black Native] I am Black Native. I’m a rapper out of Alabama and I’m here for 10-Minute Tech Comm.
[Weber] Black Native has lived throughout Alabama, including in Huntsville where I live now. I really wanted to talk to him about some of the themes that came up during Victor’s interview. Like the way that where he’s from affects his music, the way he connects with his audience, and the thought he puts into his message. I’ll play the interview in a moment but first I wanted to give you another sample of Black Native’s music so you can hear his sound and some of the topic’s he wraps about. You can get another short dip of his music after the interview as well. I want to thank Black Native for doing the interview and for giving us permission to play a bit of his music. This dip comes from the track DSA PSA, off his album Furious Styles.
[Music – Black Native, DSA PSA]
[Weber] Welcome to the show. I really appreciate it. I’m really excited to talk with you about hip hop and the work that you do. I guess to start out with, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist.
[Black Native] Yes. So, myself as an artist, I started rapping-almost graduated my bachelor year. I just kind of came with the approach ofI wanted to be the change that I wanted to hear on the radio. You know that was my approach. So, being that I didn’t like I was I was hearing instead of complaining about it, I wanted to be a[n] artist that just, “Hey this is what I would like to hear on the radio,” so that’s how you know I got into it.
[Weber] When you say you didn’t like what you hear on the radio, what didn’t you like?
[Black Native] So, this was around-I started dibbling and dabbling like around maybe, yeah like 2007, 2006, like I didn’t like how the South was being represented to everybody else. This was a time when like Soldier Boy was big and a lot of the snap dancing and a lot of those crazes were going on, and so at the time only like Lil’ Wayne or TI was like respected as a Southern artist and so like everybody else was like just saying, “Oh the South is responsible for the downfall of hip hop.” And I didn’t like that but I also, I didn’t agree that it was a downfall but I did agree that what was coming from my region wasn’t a good representation.
[Weber] So, you wanted to represent the South like you felt it deserved to be represented in hip hop?
[Black Native] Yes.
[Weber] So, what did you want to communicate? What did you want to say in your music?
[Black Native] I wanted to just say that there is room for a Southern artist that’s not the legends basically. That there’s still Southern artists down here who can rap about everyday life. There are Southern, every men down here, we’re not all just trapping and turning up at the dub. You know what I’m saying? So, I just wanted to-I just wanted to communicate that you know the South doesn’t have a monolithic you know sound or image.
[Weber] Well yeah and that’s-you know I saw in your Facebook bio one of the things you said was that, “Your goal as an artist is to redeem the South.” I know you talk about the South on one of your songs, “Black Confederate,” you say that you want to represent a different side of the South. How does being from the South kind of affect your music?
[Black Native] Well, it affects it because the South is unique because even when the whole East Coast, West Coast rivalry was going on, you know I was in like sixth and seventh grade, but like you kind of–you got, you got to see it from both sides. And we-and this kind of like we were neutral zone, so it was kind of like with you know Andre 3000 said on ATLien’s. You know, “In the middle we stay calm, just drop bombs.” So, being from the South and had also having that image you know these are the kind of beats that a Southerner is supposed to rap on. Southerner’s rap like this. We supposed to sound like this. Even though we have some of the most innovative artists in hip hop, it still has that sigma to it. That motivates me to say, “Hey, I’m from the South and I’m a “lyrical rapper”.” Because a lot of people don’t expect it and when people hear my music, they are surprised that I’m repping a state like Alabama. Because again, Alabama isn’t really represented in hip hop as well, so all of those things affect my music, effect to how I approach things, effect, you know, what I talk about.
[Weber] So, do you see your audience as like people outside of the South who say, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that this was the kind of sound that was coming from the South? Or are you rapping to people like fellow Southerners or both? Like who do you see as your audience?
[Black Native] Both. I see my audience as people who love hip hop and more than likely they probably come from a certain-probably that 80’s baby, such as myself. An 80’s baby earlier, you know were used to you know a certain balance that we came up having in hip hop from all regions because, hey the South had Luke and 2 Live Crew, and we also had like UGK but we also had groups like Outkast, so now it’s just a lack of balance, you know what I mean? I feel like that’s my audience, for those who are outside of the South who just want, you know just some good music and something that’s balanced and also Southerners who feel like, “Yeah, where is my representation from the South?” Because we-like I said, we all don’t sell drugs, some of us we did go to college, you know so I feel like that’s who I’m for.
[Weber] Yeah, you want a wider audience to see themselves reflected in hip hop?
[Black Native] Definitely.
[Weber] Do you do a lot of live shows?
[Black Native] I haven’t recently but when I do my live shows, man some of my live shows have been interesting. Like-well first I just want to say like when I do a live show the trend now is to kind of like rap behind your vocals and I just don’t believe in that. Because I feel like if you wanted to studio version, just listen to it. But again, I come from seeing you know some of the groups that I’ve mentioned and other groups like the Roots actually being a hip hop band and you know watching things like MTV Unplugged, where hip hop artists performed behind a live band or even just having a live feel. But now-a-days you know it just doesn’t happen. So, when I came out with “Black Confederate,” I was living up here in Maryland, a previous time, when I would walk in, I would walk in with you know the logo that I decided to use, you know the all black confederate flag with the white, and so you know I get funny looks at first. They’re like, “What is this?” You know and so then you know as I start to like rap and I start to say the lyrics of the song, I see the audience start to connect and they be like, “Oh that’s what he’s trying to say,” and so after the performance it’s like, “Oh I get it.” You know I don’t try to do shock value but at the same time I do like to put on a good live show that’s why I like in preparation, I make sure you know to have my lyrics down. I try to bring props ifI can. You know I just do—-I do believe in showmanship and I do believe in professionalism and so I try to merge the two.
[Weber] When you say you know when your audience is like, “Oh that’s what he’s trying to say?” What do you want them to take, message wise?
[Black Native] Message wise, I just want them to be like, a, you know that dude is a dope rapper. Again, you know part of trying to build a fanbase is connecting with an audience while also letting them know, “Hey, you know I do have skill.” So, I do want them to walk away saying, a, “This guy has skill,” b, I do like when I hear, “Yo, I didn’t-I didn’t know what to expect,” because I don’t have the “image of a rapper”. I don’t have a lot jewelry or you know the flashiness that comes with, the swag that comes with a lot of rappers. You know again I’m kind of like a every man. I kind of do like the shock value of people not expecting to hear what they hear when they come out to see me. Third, I just want them to walk away saying that, you know, “It was worthwhile,” and I gained a fan.
[Weber] One of the things that my other guest Victor said is that you know hip hop and rap and DJ’ing they don’t get enough credit for some of the thoughtfulness that goes into it. You know that there’s a lot of reflectiveness that goes into the message, the work.
[Black Native] Oh yeah.
[Weber] Obviously you do a lot of thinking about your rap, what you want to say and how it’s going to be done. You know what happens behind the scenes as far as you know you thinking out what you want to say or how you want to do that we may not see necessarily if we watch one of your videos or go to one of your shows?
[Black Native] Every writing process for me is a little different. Sometimes I have the idea but not quite have the beat or anything like that and then sometimes the beat kind of you know steers me into a direction. As far as my process goes, I do want to convey in a way that even though art will always have it’s interpretation, I want to be as clear as possible with my stance, whatever the stance is. I just want to be as clear as possible. I am a lyrical guy, so I do use multisyllabic words and stuff like that, but it’s nothing that you couldn’t get the context of. I try to convey it in a way where it’s an even keel balanced of skill and interpretation because if they can’t interpret what you’re saying or it just sounds like a bunch of words, then it’s wasted. So, when I’m writing you know I try to think of the best words that will rhyme and things like that but I just try not to keep it so heavy that you just lose people.
[Weber] What kinds of technical skills go into it? That’s another thing my other guest mentioned, is that for DJ’ing and hip hop there’s a lot of technical skills, again that are kind of behind the scenes.
[Black Native] Mostly (chuckle) the technical part with me is just on the artist side. When it comes to the other stuff, I just know basic stuff. Like as far as like just loading something like with all that, the tech part, but as far as the artist part, me being technical I have learned how to again, convey that message and not only that but like when the beat comes in, playing what flows. Like how to get it out, you know what I mean, that’s something that I-I have learned how to do. Try not to pretty much rap with the same cadence on every beat. With that comes rhyme choice because you know you may have to scratch this word because it’s a little too long or too short, you know what I’m saying? To fit inside the one-two’s and the three-four’s, you know of whatever flow you’re trying to use. So, on the technical side, I haven’t learned anything electronic technically but technical within the artistry, that’s definitely something that I’ve learned.
[Weber] Yeah, awesome. Do you have anything else about kind of the messages that you want to convey? Again, I know you’ve got-you mentioned some songs that may be a little bit controversial or that you’re trying to sort of get a response from people, you know what’s your approach for that?
[Black Native] Well I-I talk about my experiences. You know I have songs on my album Furious Styles, that “Black Confederate” appears on. I have a song called “Gang Goofy,” is what I call it and it’s about guys, about people, women and men who are “goofy” to the game that is happening to them. You know you have a guy who-who he’s trying to be fresh at the dub, he needs a woman who thinks he’s attracted to them, he invites her over, and then next thing you know, he’s tied up and he gets robbed by her crew. You know what I’m saying? So, I do use a lot of social commentary but also have like songs just about driving. I have a Christmas song.
[Weber] (chuckle) Oh, nice, yeah.
[Black Native] Yeah, I have a song where I thought-I thought I had a home invasion, but a bird snuck in my house. I just want to convey that, you know what I mean? That you can show humor in hip hop because so many of my favorite artists, like Ludacris, Red Man, you know they have a lot of humor in hip hop as well. So, I just want to convey, you know what my message is that I’m an everyday guy. I just happen to have this skill. I do represent the region where I’m from because my state, Alabama, hasn’t had a lot of representation. We don’t even have any gold or platinum albums from anybody from-in hiphop. Whoever does that first, is going to make hip hop history and it’s 2018, hip hop has been out that long and we still haven’t had that. You know that’s the point that I just want to get across to people who listen to my music, “He has skill. He’s diverse.” You know I’m not coming off like you know some kind of super person, I’m just-I’m just you know a human being but again just rapping about experiences.
[Weber] Awesome and if we want to listen to your music, where can we hear it?
[Black Native] Okay, my album Furious Styles, which is because you know people say I look like a younger Lawrence Fishbourne, and Furious Styles, was his name on Boyz In The Hood. You can hear that album at blacknative.bandcamp.com. You can also go to soundcloud.com/black-native, from there I have some other songs that you know just haven’t been attached to a project yet. Just songs that I’ve been you know pushing out.
[Weber] Thank so much for appearing today. I really appreciate it.
[Black Native] Oh, thank you man. It’s been a pleasure.
[Outro Music-Black Native, Undivided Attention]