U Call That Love is proud to show you an interview with Final Outlaw, who is one of the most prospective Hip Hop artist in underground of New York City. Don’t ignore him, because he isn’t one-hit wonder rapper but strong man whit attitude.
No doubt yo, I am honored to be a part of it. Well basically, to me all the world is filled with the same people. I try to treat others with as much respect as I think I deserve. I hope the Polish will embrace me and listen to my story the same way I would.
You were born in Northfolk, Virginia but you also have Latino roots because your mother comes from El Salvador. Do you feel linked with your mother’s country? I heard that there were many bloody civil wars and government is not kind for the people.
I don’t remember anything about Northfolk, I was just a baby. To me New York City is my home; all my memories are here, my family, my friends. As far as my Latino roots, not only is my mother from El Salvador but my father is half Puerto Rican. His other half is one of those family mysteries I’ve had trouble obtaining any truth about. He could either be half African American or Caucasian. I honestly don’t know. This all makes me multi-racial, mixed – a mutt. Unfortunately I’ve been separated from my family in El Salvador; I wasn’t raised with them so I feel disconnected and distant. If I have family in Puerto Rico they probably don’t even know I exist. It is because of things like civil war and corrupt government that innocent families have to be torn apart like mine has. America has had no problem exploiting El Salvador for resources and whatever other interests or investments they have made there, but when people from El Salvador desperately want to find a new home to raise their children away from gang-land and war, Americans suddenly want to build a wall at the border. What I’m saying is yes, El Salvador has been a very unfortunate location as far as poverty and war is concerned but I know that America was involved in the corruption of that country and many others like it. Regardless, El Salvador is very beautiful and home to very kind people.
Could you tell me about your childhood? When you arrived with your family to NYC and chose to stay there permanently?
My family had already lived in NYC before my birth at Northfolk. My father joined the Navy and this is the reason we ended up in Virginia. We came back to New York before I built any memories of my childhood. I grew up in Manhattan. I’m very familiar with uptown (Harlem, Washington Heights.) I was pretty much raised among Blacks, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans – these were the people I would eventually grow up to know so well. I think a person is bound to witness violence often when growing up in the city. As an adult I am saddened to know just how apathetic and distracted everyone is. Sometimes I wonder how I was even able to save myself from the countless mistakes and bad decisions my friends were making. My brother and I tried to be good kids, but on occasion we were involved in small time gang-like activities and recklessness. I think the hardest thing was watching my parents struggle with each other and the conditions we were living in. Sometimes humans can’t help but to hurt each other.
Your first steps in Hip Hop was freestyling with your friends around the streets. How do you remember that time when you were battling and freestyling everywhere where it could be possible?
I had so much fun. I was beginning to mature. Sometimes I wouldn’t come home for days or weeks at a time. I didn’t want to come home because home was a shelter, and I rather be with my “homies.” Life was just all about trying to meet a girl to love, playing video games, playing sports, eating whatever you pleased, and Hip Hop. It doesn’t feel like long ago and honestly it wasn’t. It feels like a far away place and time only because so many things have changed between us all. It turns out I was the only one serious about this career choice out of the 9 or so members we originally had in our small rap group. I don’t blame them though, this is a tough industry, and I truly believe they were in it for the fun – what better reason is there?
Who helped you when you started your career? Did you work alone or were there some people who managed you?
I met some guy in Harlem with recording equipment. I don’t remember how I got his contact but I originally called him using a number I found on a business card. I recorded my first professional song at his house. His wife was very kind but I didn’t trust him too much. I met up with my boys after recording my first song “Blowin’ in the wind.” They were all blown away. The song featured one of my homies from “Zero Tolerance” (our rap group.) He goes by the name Pegasus now, but at the time was known as “Lyrical Reaper.” He has been with me through the hardest times as far as Hip Hop is concerned – he often performs with me. I owe that guy allot – he’s like a brother. Both “Lyrical Reaper” and I became instant mini-stars within our friends. One guy in particular was a great help to me. Although we have very little in common I will always be grateful for his help. His name was Migs and he was one of the guys I played the song to. He loved it; it seemed to have inspired him. One day he gave me a large sum of money to purchase recording equipment. He basically expressed that he believed I could make it, and he wasn’t at all afraid to sacrifice some money to see my dreams go somewhere. Of course I took the money and we began recording our own songs without having to go to any studio. I owe allot to Migs, I know where that money came from and believe me, it is a very personal thing he sacrificed. All I will say is that somebody literally had to die for me to be given a chance in Hip Hop. Sometimes I forget that. My family also played the biggest role in my career.
You’ve become rapidly popular and one of the most known underground artists without having a huge discography. How do you feel about this?
I think its great. People have no clue what I have in store for them. I suppose some are wondering whether I have anything else at all but they are probably the same ones who haven’t purchased my CD yet. I rather become successful over time and reinforce my career instead of being discovered and constantly rely on the success of my next hit. I have noticed that I’ve become more popular and more and more people are popping up everywhere asking me to do show’s and such but I still feel like not enough people know me. Perhaps locally on the underground of NYC I am respected widely but I am not finished yet. I plan on creating Hip Hop that will evolve the culture as a whole. So far all I’ve done is show people I can rap – I got skills. Ultimately I will show people that I can easily transcend Hip Hop and adapt to any artistic choice I make. Right now I am watching and learning from the contemporary rappers in my environment. Progress is being made in this city by many more people than just me. My job is to challenge them and bring forth fierce competition that will force them to remain creative and hungry. I am happy with that. My time is near.
his project? Who helped you with recording this mixtape? Is it true, that all featured artists who are in this project your friends?
I recorded this project alone, running back and forth between equipment. It was mixed and mastered by Mez who has worked with many big named artists both on the underground and mainstream. End of the weak (EOW) provided their recording facility to engineer the project. I produced every song except for four tracks. Pegasus was featured on a few songs and everyone else are friends of mine I either met in my personal life, through activism, or underground Hip Hop. I am not a big fan of collaborations. If I make a song with a person, I want to make music not business. This explains why there aren’t any other collaboration’s other than people I know. I don’t need to show off who I’m cool with and shit like that. That’s corny.
How is Hip Hop in NYC now? Many people said that NYC had been lost its crown and it will be difficult to regain its status in the rap game. What is your opinion about that?
People talk allot of shit. This is petty gossip; there are more important issues in the world than Hip Hops imaginary “crown.” I am disgusted that people are so easily distracted by such foolery. Look, if people cared so much about New York’s position in Hip Hop they would do everything they possibly could to breathe some life back into the city and its urban culture. Hip Hop was born in the Bronx after all. Why is it that people criticize something before attempting to help it or fix it first? Can anyone answer that for me? Hip Hop as a whole is in shambles, the people who created it in the first place don’t even own it. The new owners of a culture our people created is now the Big 5. Music conglomerates have destroyed Hip Hop and for the most part it’s just a big joke now. People on the underground all over the city including me are making headlines, preserving and evolving Hip Hop. Not everyone does it for fame. Perhaps it is the monetary value of New York Hip Hop that people are really concerned with. It’s rising once again if you ask me.
In my opinion you are ONE of the „Unsigned Hype” artists. Nowadays, many independent labels in the underground are releasing good albums. Have you ever had offers to sign up from some label?
I also believe that more people should be aware of me. Since I am not signed by anything I’m still generally unknown. But on the other hand I am still free to make the best business decision possible. I think Hip Hop deserves the Source and XXL to bring more awareness to the public about me. I think in the coming months we will see more news regarding who I am and what I do. I am not impressed with any label and what they have done for their artists lately. It seems that I will continue to struggle independently before somebody decides to respect me. I am not somebody to be purchased or persuaded. I seek a commitment. Those people will approach me more often the more people like yourself continue showing love and bring awareness to the public.
Your first single „Hip Hop 4ever” created buzz and some hype on NYC streets and you earned respect from other people. You created local attention but how does it look on the radio and other people and establishments who could do allot about promotion and everything else. Do they appreciate you?
Many small radio & TV networks internationally have been showing lots of love. I have to shout out Video Music Box and all the blog spots out there showing love. On the other hand there are a slew of cowards out there that are too obsessed with the golden era or pop hop to show love to an upcoming generation. I believe they will do the same thing many internet sites did – they will show me love when they notice everyone else is. Expect me on Hot 97 at least once or twice, in the coming year. I will also be on the UK’s version of Hot 97 and MTV early 2009. I can’t really drop any more clues on that type of stuff, I’m sure there are some envious imposters out there trying to strip me of my contacts. Money destroys everything.
Are you satisfied in your status in the rap game? Do you want to find more supporters? I read that you are in search of a webmaster for your official site.
There are many people that would kill to be in my position right now so I am not angry about that. However I think it would be a mistake to become satisfied so early on in my career. There is so much more left to do. Indeed I will continue working for many more supporters and I am looking for a committed webmaster yes.
I heard that every show is important to you. Is that true? Do you prefer to perform in smaller arenas or in bigger places?
I will continue expanding into bigger venues as I become more popular of course but I don’t think I will ever lose the hunger of going into open mics and blowing them away. As long as people respect me and don’t try to use me for free then I don’t mind doing a show anywhere. Ultimately it’s the crowd that really needs to hear what I am saying.
Do you want to record with some good and well-known rapper? In Hip Hop there are many Latino artists who are good today e.g. Immortal Technique, Terminology, Fat Joe. Is there any chance to work with them?
Like I said before I am not a fan of collaborations if it’s going to be all about business. I want to make timeless music not a good crossover business move. I am not a fan of Fat Joe or Termanology and I don’t know either one of them personally. I think it’s stupid that artists should be put together just because they are both Latino or both Black. I don’t make music to represent Latino’s only – that’s greedy. My music is for everyone. When it comes to Immortal Technique I think there are much more important things we can do together other than music in the communities we come from and talk about it our songs. You never know what the future holds, again I don’t have a problem with a collaboration as long as its genuinely about making good music – not trying to get attention or a check.
Could you tell me about your next plans? Are you going to drop your next mixtape or a debut album?
A new mixtape is under production right now. It should be done very soon. My new album should be done by the summer. I will drop a few singles very soon for both projects and I am working on a few more new videos with Director Janelle Ryan once again.
How about your life without Hip Hop? Is it possible to live without this culture? What does Hip Hop mean to you? How could you describe an Emcee now?
Yes, I can live without Hip Hop, naturally. I am very interested in many other arts and cultures of the world. I want to explore the world one day and do something good for other people. You never know I might live in Poland one day. Why? Who knows? Only the future can answer these things. People have to remember that we are all humans, and humans can adapt to anything. I think it is insulting to be categorized under just one thing, as if I am limited to just Hip Hop. That is absolutely wrong. At any time of my life I can choose to learn and do something completely different. Hip Hop to me means freedom. An emcee is a person who loves and lives Hip Hop and wants to expose that love to world.
Many thanks for the interviews. Last shout for the people?
It was an honor to do this interview with you. Feel free to hit me up at anytime. Hip Hop 4ever!
FINAL OUTLAW @ HASAN SALAAM – Children of God Release Party LIVE Hip Hop