Where are you from and is there anyone else big in the game from your area?
I’m from a city in Southeast Georgia called Savannah. Most people just call it ‘Seaport’ for short because of all the water and we get alot in on the docks. Legally and illegally. There was a time when the biggest name to ever come out of Savannah was my brother Jason Johnson, who the world knew as “Camoflauge”. When he was murdered in 2003, it was one of the darkest moments in my cities history. It literally shattered our rap scene and everything fell apart after he left. It took us a while to pick up the pieces and with cats like myself, Bugga, and a handful of others, we’re here and stronger than ever. Unfortunately, Bugga was also murdered recently and my condolensces go out to his family. So for the moment, I feel like it’s all on me. There’s other artists going hard down here that y’all need to know about, but, the way my mind works: it’s all on me. And I came to finish what my fallen brothers started.
Explain the music that you make. Describe your style and tell us what makes you different from other rappers out there?
The only category I fit in is ‘artist’. I listen to alot of other genres like Alternative, R&B, Rock, etc so it all bleeds into my music. One minute I will give you a Rap record, the next minute it’s a Hip Hop record, the third minute it’s got a Rock or an R&B element. It’s whatever is in my head and heart at that moment. As far as subject matter, I literally speak on whatever is weighing on my head or spirit. It might not be the most politically correct topic but, oh, well. Most times you will hear me speaking on my past and present experiences, rather that’s good or bad. ‘Good’ or ‘bad’ is relative to who you’re talking to anyway. Some say that I’m glorifying negative aspects of society. No, I’m not. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. All I do is pull back the curtain on alot of shit that you would otherwise not know about. If I make the world aware of it, hopefully it will change so somebody’s child doesn’t have to come up in the conditions that I came up in. I speak on everything from drugs to politics, real women to bitches, cars to mutual funds, and of course God and religion. I read alot and I feel like I owe it to my fans to give them my past, no matter how grimy, while showing my present and telling them how to make the future better.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement in Hip-Hop so far?
I feel my biggest achievements so far would be the fact that I’m one of the few responsible for anybody even knowing Savannah exists outside of riverboats and beaches. One of the few, like the late Camoflauge, that give you the grimy Savannah that nobody wants you to know about. I’ve been blessed to have my music featured on some of the top mixtapes and projects in the world ranging from ‘Shadyville (Shady/Aftermath)’ and ‘ChronicCast (Slip-N-Slide)’ mixtapes to the most recent worldwide release of DJ Ames ‘International Hustle 8’ that I’m actually hosting and ‘Yellow Tape Chronicles’ which is my latest official mixtape hosted by DJ Aaries, DJ SouthanBred, and DJ T-Roc. Then, of course there’s the huge buzz around the ‘Like a Ballplayer’ record and video. I just shot a video for the new record ‘In Your Way’ produced by High Notes that’s getting crazy buzz all over the industry.
What studio do you record in and does anyone help you to get your music made?
I record most of my projects in Full Blown Studios located in south Atlanta. I don’t lay down tracks anywhere else simply because the musical chemistry between myself and my engineer, Tank the Destroyer, is a hard one to find. We have our own sound and alot of times he knows what sound I’m going for before I even speak on it. I believe that explains why we can bang out so many high quality records so frequently. Beyond my several in-house producers and my engineer, I don’t get help making records because I’m not a ‘rapper’, I’m an artist. I even songwrite and ghostwrite for other artists. I’ve been told that I have an ear and a knack for hearing the concept of a song in a track and painting a vivid picture of it. That all lends to my versatility. That, and the fact that I listen to all genres of music, from Alternative to Rock to Rap to R&B. All of those influences bleed into my music.
Lyrically, what can we expect from you?
Greatness. Period. I’ve dedicated my life to this craft and have taken some major losses over it so if somebody thinks I’m not gonna put my soul into being the best mc you’ve ever heard then you might need an intervention. I was given a gift, but, it’s like any other gift that you’re given. If you don’t nurture it, care for it, take it serious, it will deteriorate and ultimately become damages and worthless. My whole thought process revolves around one question that is firmly planted in my mind: ‘If Not Me, Then Who?’. That basically means that if I don’t take over the game, who will? If I don’t show you what real lyrics and talent are, who will? The bottom line is alot of cats feel that it’s they’re going to be the one to do it. I don’t feel that way. I swear to God I know I’m going to be the one to change the industry’s direction. Simple and plain.
Tell us about the new release. Anyone supporting it?
My latest project actually dropped on August 4th of this year. The UK Mixtape King himself DJ Ames enlisted me to host his coveted ‘International Hustle 8’ which is a worldwide mixtape release. The feedback on that has been ape shit from DJs and fans alike. I put some exclusives on there that you probably won’t hear on any other project and you can cop it easily by downloading it from Datpiff.com and several other international websites. Be warned, it’s a monster. I got another all official mixtape dropping this fall so stay tuned to http://www.skriptureakalilsavannah.blogspot.com for all the latest on what’s good with me and mine. Some of my biggest supporters are the top DJs in the world. Rather it’s DJ Emiliot in Belgium, DJ Taylrmayd of Slip-n-Slide, DJ Whut It Dew of the Fleet DJs, DJ Ophax in France, or DJ Whyking in Norway, I mean the list is longer than Warren Buffett money. Shouts to all my DJs, promoters, and fans. Love all y’all.
Any plans to do any tracks with ‘big name’ rappers or producers?
I don’t make ‘plans’ to do tracks or records with anybody in particular. I believe what’s supposed to happen will happen. When you start thinking and focusing on things like ‘damn I have to make a record with Producer ‘X’ because he’s the hottest in the game right now, you end up spending 3/4 of your budget and getting a record that might not even be hot. With all due respect, I don’t care if your the hottest anything in the game right now. The name of my game is quality records, so if that comes from an cat that is ‘new’ to the game then so be it. Most times it’s a lower cost and a better product anyway. Shouts to all my in-house producers, Tank the Destroyer of Full Blown Ent., Yung Pimp out of SouthWest Atlanta, Norway’s own High Notes who did the ‘In Your Way’ record, Joe Gus and the Nomineez, and of course Big Rus whose responsible for alot of records you hear on ‘Yellow Tape Chronicles’ mixtape released spring of 2009. He’s also the monster behind the ‘Like a Ballplayer’ record. They toss up the alley oop and I throw it down. Simple as that.
Is Hip-Hop dead?
It’s dead as some older cats know it. It’s a different game, the ones still doing it have adapted and evolved with it. The reason most say it’s dead is because these cats are not taking the craft seriously. The whole thought process is ‘I gotta get one hot record’ and unfortunately the majors are becoming a catalyst for that. You can’t buy into that because if it was up to the majors, hip hop wouldn’t exist in the first place. Remember, Def Jam was an independant label first. You have to know the history in order to put the present in its proper perspective. I respect cats getting money but that doesn’t mean I have to respect how you’re getting it and that doesn’t mean you have to care what I think. That doesn’t affect me one way or another. But, in order for real lyrics to make a comeback it’s going to take artists like myself who take the craft seriously and focus on longevity in order to steer the game in another more talented direction. Most ‘rappers’ now are just looking at creating one single and living off of that for as long as possible with ringtone and downloads. I want to deliver projects so hot that you have no choice but to buy it in its entirety. It’ll be cheaper that way for you anyway.
What are your views on mixtapes?
I believe mixtapes are necessary to give the industry and the streets a taste of what you can do and who you are. In today’s game more people buy mixtapes than actual albums and nobody gives a damn about your album if they haven’t heard you rip a few mixtapes first. That’s just how it goes. Mixtapes are here to stay so you just have to learn how to use them. There are alot of cats eating good off of mixtapes only.
In your honest opinion who are the greatest five MC’s of all time and why?
This is one of the most heated topics out there. Most cats don’t agree with mine for several reasons, but, that’s why it’s mine and not theirs. So, in this order:
4. Andre 3000
3. Notorious B.I.G.
Yea, yea, yea….I put Eminem above Biggie. Simple reason why is that Em is hands down the best lyricist of all time whether you can relate to his subject matter or not. Listen to the words and you’ll see what I mean. Jay-Z is the monster of the double entendre. Andre 3000 can’t be matched for creativity plus lyrically he will eat you alive and smile while doing it, then pat you on the back afterwards and walk away. Lastly, Tupac is number one for obvious reasons. No one has ever embodied the contrasts of life and politics like he did. Period. Lyrically, these are the five mc’s that I put myself up against when I’m writing records. Those are the bars I try to exceed. I feel like I’m doing well so far. One day somebody’s top five list will include ‘Skripture aka Lil’ Savannah’, God Willing.
Who distributes for your music?
My main distributor of the several that I have is 101 Distribution. They’re more indie friendly and put me in all the right places, from iTunes and Rhapsody to Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Besides them I have my own network between my label 4 Alarm Music Group and TGR Entertainment, LLC that gets my product out to the Moms and Pops and local underground retailers. We’re currently entertaining a few P&D offers and whoever gets the figures right first, wins.
Out of all the gripes of being independent what do you think is the hardest obstacles to overcome?
The hardest obstacle is going to be finances more often than not. Most majors are machines with seemingly endless money to throw at projects for marketing and promotion. Indies, though, are most time ran by folks who are investing their own money into their business to compete with the same majors that I’m talking about. Alot of times that money was supposed to go to rent, car notes, or food. Nobody sacrifices like an up and coming indie label. Especially when you factor in things like payola and the fact that you don’t have the TV time majors do, it makes it a virtually impossible fight. But, then again, if it was easy, everybody would do it. Alot are trying but not everyone is succeeding. Some say it’s not fair, but, when has life been fair. Play the hand you’re dealt.
On the flipside of the coin, do you have any tip s for someone just coming in the game?
My main advice is that you have to be a true hustler and businessperson to turn an indie artist or label successful, so make sure you read as many of the right books as you can and stay informed because you’re already behind the eight ball so do yourself a favor: be realistic, be smart, and be willing to lose small now in order to win big later. Most of all, though, be patient and don’t wait for handouts. Nobody respects desperation. Go take yours and the fans will find you.
Have you featured on any DVD’s or made any music videos?
I’ve been on plenty of DVD’s and more recently the video for my new banger ‘In Your Way’ produced by High Notes will be on several more, including Hustle DVD among others after it world premieres this fall This past spring we shot the video for the ‘Like A Ballplayer’ joint that has had a ridiculous buzz from day one of it’s release. You can find the ‘Like A Ballplayer’ video on more sites than I can name here. The main ones are of course YouTube, Blastro, MySpace, AOL TV, etc etc. Google me for more info on what’s good with my situation.
With My Space being so popular do you think its still worth having a website?
Truthfully, alot of people think MySpace replaced the need for an official website. Hell no it didn’t. MySpace is great for what it is, a networking site you can use to gain a fanbase and be seen and heard by people who otherwise may not know you. The cons are that the music is compressed to high hell and you’re limited in what you can do. It’s a better idea to use MySpace as a means of driving fans and potential supporters to an actual blog or official website. It’s a much more official look and you can put a lot more information on it. On top of that, the music sounds better which is always a plus, especially when you’re trying to get the attention of industry cats or DJs. Just put yourself in a position where you have all your bases covered. That’s the name of the game.